I have a lot of friends in Eastern Canada and the US, and it seems like everyone has been to Disney World – everyone except me.
Florida is a long way away when you live in Western Canada. Besides, five years ago we took our children to Disneyland; there was no need to go all the way to Florida for what would be a similar experience, or so I thought. (Oh, how wrong I was!)
But things changed when my husband discovered direct flights to Orlando and convinced me that, with boys aged ten and eleven, the timing was exactly right for a family trip to Disney World. The three of them were over-the-moon excited. Me? Less so.
I thought the trip would be okay, but I wasn’t thrilled about it. After hearing a few negative comments — the crowds are crazy, the food is expensive, there is too much walking — I had a vision of myself curled up on a bench with aching feet, rocking back and forth to the tune of It’s A Small World. Not only was I a Disney World virgin, I was also a Disney World curmudgeon.
The point is, I was completely unprepared for our trip to be the GREATEST TRIP EVER! We’ve taken a lot of trips as a family and none can compare to our trip to Disney World.
6 Tips for the Disney World Virgin
The Early Bird Gets The Mouse
Get used to it; there are always a lot of people at Disney World, but getting an early start to the day helps. Instead of waiting and waiting, we arrived at Hollywood Studios and managed four rounds of the Star Tours before ten o’clock in the morning with minimal lineups.
Use Your Fast Passes Wisely
We scheduled our Fast Passes for the most popular attractions later in the day, which meant we could really maximize our rides. Lineups in the morning tend to be a lot lighter, and our Fast Passes allowed us to jump the queue at the busiest parts of the day.
Download The My Disney Experience App
Once the Fast Passes are scheduled, download the My Disney Experience app. Not only does it allow you to see your daily plans at a glance, it also shows the wait time for all the rides. Handy! It’s worth downloading just for the map to the nearest washroom, at least for those of us who can’t get through a day without a gallon of coffee and the subsequent pit stops. The app also allows you to find nearby restaurants – and more coffee shops! – and make dining reservations if necessary.
Food Is Expensive – Kind Of
It DOES cost an arm and a leg to buy a bottle of water, and food in the park IS expensive, but we ate all of our breakfasts and most of our dinners at our hotel – The Art of Animation – where the prices were more reasonable than expected, so plan ahead. The quality of produce was really remarkable; as a Canadian, I’m used to produce that has travelled thousands of miles to be on my plate, so the gorgeous fresh fruits and vegetables were a real treat. No matter how many times I said, “Fruit is nature’s candy,“ my kids still mostly ignored me and looked around for Mickey-shaped ice cream treats. Remember to pack fruit bars, protein bars, and bags of nuts for high-energy snacks while you’re in the park.
The Walking Is A Bonus
Those high-energy snacks were needed because there is a lot of walking involved. But this is a good thing! According to my step-counter, I walked 72 kilometres in five days, which meant I could indulge in any treats I wanted. I’ll have the large fries, please!
It Really Is The Happiest Place On Earth
Disney is a well-oiled machine; transportation to and from the parks runs smoothly, the staff at the hotels and the parks are pleasant and helpful, and everything is clean and felt safe. The people at Disney obviously spend a lot of resources to ensure that your trip is wonderful in every way, and I really felt that to be true. I can’t wait to go back!