I recently spent a belated Christmas staycation/early birthday celebration with two of my oldest and best friends at Epcot and Magic Kingdom in Disney World up in Orlando, Florida. I had really wanted to get away somewhere, even if for two days, and this really seemed an excellent choice. In truth, I hadn’t been to either park in a good 6 years and it had been a while before that. I will start by saying that if you are going to Disney, go with a couple of Disney fanatics like my friends. Going with someone who knows the ins and outs will make the trip so much more enjoyable. Should you not be fortunate enough to know any Disney fanatics, here are a few other great suggestions to make your visit a great one.
1. Stay on Disney property. Yes, it can be more expensive, but it is so worth it if you can possibly swing it! I have stayed at the Contemporary and Fort Wilderness Lodge in recent memory and absolutely loved it. This time around we stayed at Port Orleans, French Quarter. As you might expect this hotel has a New Orleans, Mardi Gras kind of theme going on. Their food court has yummy beignets and their pools have fun slides. You can also take the riverboat to Disney Springs and the bus to to Epcot from here. No need to drive! Overall, I loved this place! Great atmosphere, good rooms, beds were comfortable, easy access…what more can you ask for?!
2. Wear your walking shoes! Self-explanatory! 🙂 You will be walking. Got a special occasion? Make sure to ask your hotel for a button. I couldn’t resist the Happy Birthday one. They have other ones too, like My First Visit, or whatever you would like! It might just get you a free drink somewhere.
3. Enjoy the many lands of Epcot! As you walk around the 2.78-mile circuit you will pass through Mexico, Norway, China, America, Germany, Japan, France, Morocco, the United Kingdom and Canada. I’m partial to Italy, France, Japan, the United Kingdom. In each land, you can enjoy food from that area. We made reservations at Via Napoli in Italy and I discovered a yummy drink that has now become my new best friend, the Chocolate Expresso Martini! Try the arancini (rice balls), they are to die for!
What is interesting about all these lands is that Disney actually hires people from the various areas to work so you really get exposed to people from that culture. Being sung Happy Birthday by hunky Italian guys somehow makes it so much better!
Listening to the live drummers in Japan is pretty cool.
In America, you can catch a show called the American Experience which essentially goes through the US Presidents and how we have changed as a country. Listen below to President Barack Obama sum it up as only he can!
4. Get your Magic bands and make FastPass reservations for your favorite attractions. You can only make 3 at each park per day. We didn’t have a lot of interest in roller-coasters but we did do the Test Trac in Epcot. In Magic Kingdom we hit my personal favorite, Pirates of the Caribbean (yo-ho!), as well as The Haunted Mansion and a new ride, Peter Pan’s Flight.
5. Get your Disney FastPass photos! They are worth it. Professionals are stationed all throughout the parks and you can connect it to your Magic band or if you don’t have a pass they will give you a card that the photographers scan and you can look them up later. If it is your birthday, ask them to pose you because when the photographers finalize it they will put some balloons in your hands 🙂 There is also a super cute pose, with Tinkerbell in your hands.
If you can, definitely visit Disney around the holidays, as it is always decked out and neat to see all the decorations. Above all, enjoy visiting the happiest place on earth!
Buen viajes, Gnomies!