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Disney World Experience

Our Trip To Disney World

Disney World Castle

During the first week of November, my family flew down for a vacation at Disney World in Florida.  Unfortunately, after the first day down there, it turns out that I had the flu.  This dampened my Disney Experience to the utmost degree, but since it was expensive and my kids were still having a ball, I dealt with it.   I guess that’s part of being a dad.

So now, well over a year later, I’m finally getting around to sharing our Disney World Adventure!

Departure to Disney World

During the period when we booked the trip (at a huge discount, I might add), we signed up for the free option called “Disney’s Magic Express Transportation“.  This was our first pleasant surprise!  Since we booked early enough, they sent special paper work so that once we dropped of our luggage, it would automatically be in our room when we arrived.  This worked without a hitch.

The trip down was my daughter’s first experience in an airplane, so she was mesmerized looking out the window a good chunk of the trip.

Once we arrived, the lines were incredibly long, especially considering that we went down offseason and while school had started again. The area they had for lines was only about half full, so I couldn’t imagine what it would have looked like during a regular season day.  Luckily, the line moved quickly.

Arrival at Disney World Resorts

First we check in at the “moderate value” Disney Resorts called “Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside“.  It had a great view and very cozy, but the rooms were about the size of a typical old holiday Inn.  The pool, eating area and canal/river was beautiful and very clean!

Disney Riverside Resort
Disney Riverside Resort

We went with the Disney meal plan, so after we arrived, we went to Downtown Disney (since our ticket to the amusement park wasn’t open until the next day).  There we met up with some friends at Wolfgang Puck’s Cafe, where I had a delicious cut of steak.

Next we found a Lego store for my son, and he loved it!  There were cool Lego sculptures everywhere, including a Loch Ness Monster in the lake.  Needless to say, my 6-year-old daughter wasn’t so keen on Nessie, and kept far and clear from it!

All in all it was a great experience for the first day, especially since we took a quick, free boat ride from our resort area to Downtown Disney.  Shoot, the boat ride was almost like an amusement ride in itself.

The Disney World Amusement Parks

First for the map:

Disney World Map
Disney World Map

We went to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Disney MGM Studios. Each park was very unique, and all of the parks were clean and the staff very helpful and courteous!

Here is a quick summary of each of the Disney World core parks

  • Magic Kingdom: It’s showing it’s age, but there are still some favorite rids in this park.  The Peter Pan ride is under-rated but still very cool.  Space Mountain was sadly closed for repairs during the time we were down.  My wife liked the “It’s a small world” ride.  It broke down on us…  Overall, great but not that much better than any other amusement park.  Of course, this was my kid’s favorite ride.
  • Animal Kingdom: Very cool, but not to different from a local Safari exhibit from where I live, so while it was impressive and the guide (it was a ride in a bus ride) was entertaining, overall it was just fair.  Perhaps I’m spoiled though, if you’ve never been on a ride like this it would be great!
  • Epcot: I enjoy this!  it was cool seeing information about all the different parts of the work.  It even had some pretty cool rides.  I wanted to go on Mission: Space, but I was too sick by that time.  There is this very excellent ride in the Mexico portion that I thought was awesome.
  • Hollywood Studios: This park was called MGM Studios in another life, but now it’s been renamed “Hollywood Studios”.  We underestimated this park and thought it would be boring, but instead it was our favorite of the bunch.  Unfortunately, we only spent one day there, and it was a day that they didn’t perform the incredible show called “Fantasmic“.  Still practically all the other shows and rides there were pretty incredible!

All in all, it was an incredible experience, and if you’re planning a trip soon, I’d advise that you do the following tips:

1.)  Take advantage of the FastPASS tickets!  Make sure you choose which one you pick wisely, since you can only get 1 ticket per each fastpass at a time.  Get your fastPASS ticket early in the day because the ride time gets bumped later and can even sell out.  These are worth the scramble to get them in the morning, so pick your favorites first!

Get Your FASTPASS ticket early

2.)  Hit Hollywood Studio on the day that Fantasmic is playing, you won’t regret it like I did!!!

3.)  If you went down the first week of November, you can go to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and then later in the week Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  it cost extra, but it might be worth it.

4.)  Schedule to have a Dinner with the Character at the Crystal Dinning hall, that way you can get into the park early.  That way a quick dad and son can run to get FastPass tickets before the rest of the people do (bonus)!  But you do need to run back because they won’t let the party into the hall until all the member are there!

5.)  Do go have a dinner at Cinderella’s castle!  The castle is cool in itself, but the show is spectacular and interactive!  I was surprised that I enjoyed it.

6.)  The normal shows (like Beauty and the Beast) are great too.  All the shows by Disney were enjoyable!

7.)  If you expect to go to different parks on the same day, get the Park Hopper Pass, so you can go from one park to another.  We didn’t do this because it would have been another $200 that we would have had to pay, but it might be worth it to you…

8.)  The dining plan was pretty much a wash for us.  Too many dessert allocations for us, we’re not dessert people.

Disney World Vacation Conclusion

Even with the discounts, it still cost us about $4,500 to $5,000!  We went for the 7 days and 8 nights package and staye at a great Disney World Resort.  It’s worth it, but pricey.

So there you have it, my experience at Disney World!  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me and I’ll do my best to remember (or ask my wife).  In my defense, I was pretty sick and somethings I didn’t get to experience to the fullest!

Night Disney Castle, Bye
Bye Disney World, Until Next Time

Are you thinking of taking the plunge and going down to Disney World (in Florida) or Disneyland (in California)?  If you have gone to Disney, was it worth it and would you go again?


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31 Responses to Disney World Experience

  1. I live in close proximity to the Mouse House. When my grandson is a little bit older, I will be getting the yearly passes for our family. I have always liked the Magic Kingdom the best.

      • Thanks, I know I will he will enjoy it!

        ~~ I wanted to let you know that if Lasik was around when I was a teenager, I would have LOVED it. It is the best thing I have ever done for myself ( 7 years ago) and would do it again without hesitation. Your daughter would love it!

  2. We’ve done Disneyland but only as a daytrip when in SoCal for other reasons. DC loved it and it was the first time he really remembered something long-term (a week after going, he said, “Daddy, do you remember when we went to Disneyland?”).

    Personally I think it’s ok but not worth going out of our way for. We’re more into food and quiet hiking when we vacation for pleasure. (More often we link with a business trip and visit museums and restaurants.)

    • I was surprised that my kids got into Disney at all, since the don’t really follow the Disney characters much.

      But they still had a great time!

  3. We took our daughter to Disney many times, and to this day enjoy looking at the videos and pictures. We have even taken a Disney cruise, AWESOME. For a kid and their parents we made memories that are priceless!

  4. We took the kids last Fall for a week long Disney trip. It was awesome! Definitely pricey but we were able to get some fairly good discounts since we are Florida residents. We saved for quite a while so we could splurge a bit while there – was worth every penny!

    • I charged the trip to my credit card for the rewards benefits, but I had the cash saved up in my checking account.

      I did underestimate the cost though, but not by enough that I would have to carry the balance forward on my credit card…

  5. Ahh, the most magical moments were those I had as a kid at DW. I remember all the icees and junk food the most.

    $5,000 is a lot, but not bad for the family and that many nights!

  6. Disney World, Was It Worth It?…

    After a year, I decided to post about our Disney World vacation and if I thought it was worth the money for the trip or not. This article is full of tips and concludes with my final opinion about our vacation at Disney World!…

  7. Disney World, Was It Worth It?…

    After a year, I decided to post about our Disney World vacation and if I thought it was worth the money for the trip or not. This article is full of tips and concludes with my final opinion about our vacation at Disney World!…

  8. My son was just asking about Disney this morning. We went in early 09 and I got a killer killer deal because of the recession. It’ll be hard to go back if we have to pay market rates.

    I’m glad no one else in your family got the flu. That would have stunk.

    • Yeah, so did we.

      I think it would still be possible, but we would have to stay outside of the park to keep cost in check.

    • It’s pretty easy to get good picts at Disney World. We got tons of great pictures, unfortunately most of them have kids in them…

  9. Sorry to hear you got ill. 🙁 Sounded like you made the most of it. I’ve been to Disneyland a few times and Disney World once. Don’t know if I need to go back. Great when I was younger. If kids pop up, maybe I have to reconsider. Using Fast Pass is a must. Too bad more places don’t utilize something similar. Any other amusement parks in the near future? 🙂

  10. I am so excited to see this post! I love Disney World – it was the first big vacation my boyfriend and I took together, and we did it when I was laid off. Even then, the $3K vacation was worth it, I had a GREAT time and we are already talking about going back.

    • I remember your post, it was great. I was going to write sooner, but being sick left a bad taste in my mouth back then. Then I just let it go, but now I’m more objective and can write about what I liked 🙂

      I really thought about linking back to you, but then my mishap happened with the post (I published it Saturday, instead of Monday), and I forget to do it.

  11. We love Disney World, and we are headed down to Florida in a couple weeks (hopefully)…

    I too thought MGM would be boring, but we love that park. The Toy Story Ride, Rock n Roller Coaster, even The Great Movie ride. I still love Magic Kingdom, but probably because we don’t spend much time on the littler kids rides. That Peter Pan ride was fun, but was not worth the line to us.

    Epcot is still great. It is perfect for a more relaxing day. Gotta get a Fast Pass for Soarin immediately though.

    My biggest piece of advice with Disney is to make sure you have enough time to relax, and visit a park more than once instead of cramming it all in one day. If you can take it at a more leisurely pace, it is much more enjoyable.

    Also, we stay off site and a condo complex 5 minutes from all the parks. 3 bedrooms, and the cost is just 120 a night, including breakfast.

    Great post.

    • It’s funny, Epcot is what I was really looking forward to, but since I was sick I didn’t eat much food and I didn’t do Soarin. I tried to get my wife and son to go, but they weren’t interested. I think they missed out big time (at least that’s what I hear).

      We stayed at a Disney Resort this first time, but next time I think we will stay offsite too. I hear it’s a much better deal!

      Thanks 🙂