“We’re going to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida!!”
Having made this announcement to my three youngest children and bounced around the living room with excitement with them, I sat down and thought about the trip ahead of us. The more I thought about it, the more questions I had. I even lay in bed at night thinking about it and in the end, I had a pad of post-it notes and every time I had another question, I wrote it down.
In the end, there were lots and lots and I sat down at the computer with a large cup of tea and my list and using the help of the Walt Disney World website and Google, I found the answers to them all.
Having talked to other mums who have been to Walt Disney World Resort, this is a perfectly normal process to go through. Travelling on a nine-hour flight with children is a long way to go and with four theme parks and two water parks all set in an area as big as a city (Manchester, actually!), you want to make the most of a trip like this, so having questions is a good thing and the research really helps you to get organised before you go. It will also stop you panicking. Always a good thing.
So this post is dedicated to my post-it notes and I hope that this will give you some key information about Walt Disney World Resort so that you can save your post-it notes for another day!
What does the ticket include?
As this was our first visit to Walt Disney World Resort, I don’t think we had ever really thought about how big it actually is. It is huge. Not only is it huge, when I started to look at the possibilities of parks, activities, attractions and everything else, I wondered how on earth we could see it all in seven days.
There are six parks in all; four theme parks and two water parks. The theme parks are Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and and the two water parks are Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. We wanted to visit them all.
In seven days, we decided to allocate one park per day and then revisit our favourite on the last day. An ultimate ticket gives you the flexibility to go to all of the parks on any day you want to, you could also park hop and do more than one if you wanted to, but we decided to just focus on one each day and leave some time to enjoy our hotel facilities too. The ticket also included FastPass+ which I talk more about in my post about planning a stress-free trip and currently includes Memory Maker, which I will explain more about in my next post!
We did do all six parks in seven days and we felt as though we had spent enough time in each one. Of course, we would have happily spent longer there but the answer to my question about being able to do it all in a week is yes, absolutely, but you’ll still want to go back and do it all again.
Where would we eat breakfast?
This may sound like a strange question but trust me, where my children are concerned it is an important one. All meals are important but breakfast is the most important. There is a wide range of dining options throughout Walt Disney World and for many of the restaurants, it is crucial to book a table as they can get so very busy. Luckily again, Disney have this covered and using the My Disney Experience website and app, you can find out all about the different restaurants, take a look at the menus, prices and book a table. We did that before we left for the holiday and I made sure that I booked one main meal each day and also booked a couple of Character Dining experiences, as we love them so much.
The website also answered my breakfast question. At Port Orleans Riverside, Riverside Mill Court was our first port of call each morning. It is a self-service restaurant with a huge range of breakfast options. I think I left the restaurant every morning saying that I wouldn’t need to eat again all day (although I did eat again twice every day). There is also a brilliant shop which apart from an amazing array of souvenirs, sells all kinds of snacks and drinks which came in handy almost every day.
Another breakfast treat was a trip to Cinderella’s Royal Table. Set in Cinderella’s Castle in the heart of Magic Kingdom, this is a booking that needs to be made and paid for in advance as it is so popular. I was so pleased to get a booking as I knew that this would make my daughter’s day. It did. She dressed up in her Elsa costume and as soon as we arrived, she was made to feel like a princess. We met Cinderella on arrival who welcomed us to her castle. We dined on pastries and a cooked breakfast, met four princesses who all came to our table and chatted, signed autographs and posed for photos and then all of the little (and not so little) princes and princesses got to make a wish with a wand and a magic wishing star that they had been given. Best-breakfast-ever.
What are the newest attractions and shows?
Frozen Ever After in Epcot was top of the list for my Frozen-obsessed daughter. It is one of the newest rides at Walt Disney World and it was well worth a visit – you can also meet Anna and Elsa there, too!
Another new ride which is really popular is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom. I can see why it is so popular, an exciting roller-coaster ride that takes you into the heart of the Seven Dwarfs Mine so that you can see the dwarfs singing as they work. It is a brilliant ride.
The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic is a new show in Animal Kingdom and it was a fabulous light and music spectacular that the whole family will enjoy and definitely sing along to. In Magic Kingdom, a new castle stage show called Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire was a favourite of my daughter’s, where characters from Princess and the Frog, Tangled & Frozen join Mickey and friends at Cinderella’s Castle for a show with classic songs and dancers too. The show takes place regularly throughout the day.
Is there something for everyone?
We all love Disney and we always have but as the boys, in particular, are getting older, I did wonder whether there would be enough to keep them amused during the week. I really did not have to wonder. There is such a huge variety of rides, shows and attractions that appeal to everyone.
The boys loved every minute of the holiday. They were at their happiest when they were hurtling around on a roller-coaster or fast-moving rides in Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios and absolutely loved the virtual reality rides in Epcot. Soarin’ in Epcot was a favourite of ours, where you can take a virtual hang-gliding trip through the skies above some of the breathtaking wonders of the world with one or two surprises along the way. It is a breathtaking ride and one that you have to remind yourself that it is virtual on more than one occasion. They also raved about the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith in Disney’s Hollywood Studios which was a ride I declined to try but promised that I definitely will next time…
As they are all fishes in disguise, all three children were almost combusting with excitement at the prospect of the two water parks and they weren’t disappointed. The boys all said that they would have loved to spend another couple of days at each, soaking up the sunshine, lazing in the lazy river or racing down speedy slides.
But they also loved meeting the characters in the different parks, along with their little sister and Mickey, Donald and co. all had the biggest hugs from the boys which was lovely to see.
In this post, I talked more about how there really is something for everyone at Walt Disney World. Even us adults enjoyed it. Of course, a holiday where your children are happy makes you happy, but we had lots of opportunities to relax and chill out and like our kids, we both enjoy the rides and meeting the characters too.
How would we travel around the resort?
This was one of my first questions. After a nine hour flight with two children who have never flown and one who hates flying, how are we going to get to our resort and how long will it take us?
The Disney Magical Express, that’s how! The Disney Magical Express is a bus which will take guests of the Disney Resort hotels free of charge to and from the hotels to the airport – a definite advantage of staying in resort, as opposed to a private accommodation.
When we arrived at Orlando International, the children were so excited but tired and keen to get to the hotel. Luckily, once you are in the main terminal, check-in for Disney’s Magical Express is clearly marked and once checked in, we went straight onto the bus and the driver put our luggage on for us, too.
Once on board, we sank into the seats and enjoyed learning all about Disney’s Magical Express and more importantly some things to look out for at Walt Disney World itself on the onboard monitors. It helped to keep everyone entertained and avoided any “are we nearly there yet” comments. The journey to Port Orleans took about 40 minutes but it didn’t feel that long at all.
The return home was also via Disney’s Magical Express and the confirmation of our pick-up time from the hotel was left on our hotel room door the day before, so we knew exactly what we were doing the day of departure, which was perfect.
What about travelling around the resort once you are there? Is it easy? What are the options? Well, that is all covered too. Disney operates an amazing transportation system which means that there are regular buses from resorts to parks throughout the day. The bus depot has a screen which gives you an expected arrival time for buses and you can sit in the shade while you wait. We never waited very long for any buses at all and sometimes we did have to stand up if it was busy, but that wasn’t a problem. At each park, the bus for our resort was easy to find, too. Port Orleans Riverside also has a Steamboat, which will take you to Disney Springs and some other resorts offer river transport to travel to and from parks, which is a wonderful way to travel.
I was talking to a mum who is planning a trip to Walt Disney World next summer and she was asking what the benefits of staying in a Disney hotel were. Apart from the amazing facilities in the resort, I added that transportation was another big bonus for me. Spending what feels like most of my life in a car during term time, it is so nice not having to drive anywhere when I am away and the buses are so reliable and quick it really helps your holiday to go smoothly.
Will we want to spend time at the hotel?
I must admit that I didn’t think we would have much time to spend at the hotel, as there was so much to pack into a week and it was only a few days before we left that I started to really look at the information about Port Orleans Riverside. Camp fires, movies under the stars, lots of swimming pools, horse and carriage rides, plus bars and restaurants! Having discovered all of that, I really wanted to make time to spend quality time at the hotel.
We all fell totally in love with Port Orleans Riverside and we made full use of the facilities throughout the week. Our room was amazing with comfortable beds, a good sized room and ensuite bathroom and thanks to the air conditioning, it was the perfect place to relax and cool down after a trip out. Once cooled down, we made good use of the swimming pools most days, took a trip on the horse and carriage, enjoyed an evening’s entertainment in the bar, watched Finding Nemo under the stars, toasted marshmallows on the campfire, steamed along the river on a steamboat, took a family ride on a surrey bike, had a caricature of the children drawn in the hotel lobby, played games in the arcade, my daughter had a hair wrap done and we took lots of walks along the Sassagoula river. There was so much more to do at the hotel than I would have ever imagined and we still didn’t do everything. My youngest son did say that he would love to spend a week just at the hotel and wondered if that was a possibility. I said that it would be but you wouldn’t want to miss out on all of the other things that the parks have to offer, but I kind of knew what he meant.
So, those were my main post-it note questions answered but if you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World Resort or have one already booked and you have any questions, please do leave your questions in the comments below and I will be more than happy to answer them.
Come back next week for the next post in my Walt Disney World series all about Memory Maker and how it helps you take the magic home!
Read the other posts in my Walt Disney World series;
This post is in partnership with Walt Disney World. All opinions here are my own