When I was trooping through Disney World Orlando with my children, I have to confess that I did not think I was in the so-called happiest place on Earth. We had been to Disneyland Paris with the children when they were 3 years old, and had forgotten how much larger Disney Orlando is in comparison.
DIsney World: Expectation vs. Reality
Needless to say, my children were bouncing around beyond thrilled with the whole Disney Orlando experience. I did not remember it being so big or so crowded!! I hadn’t been to Disney since I was a child and clearly was seeing the Orlando park in a whole new light.
I was trudging behind them with a fixed smile on face wondering why I was spending so much money to be so tired and stressed. At least I was doing better than my husband who had turned into the family mule – carrying all the extra supplies such as water bottles and the must-have souvenirs. We should’ve made it a family rule that anyone who buys mouse-ear hats needs to wear them.
Lesson learned: Just because you have been somewhere as a child does not mean that you will know how to make it a fun experience for yourself as an adult.
Handy Tips to Disney World
I wish I had seen these 50 ways to Get The Most Out Of Your Disney World Holiday list before my trip. It would’ve been really useful!
Some examples of handy tips:
- There is a Groupon Orlando site that lets you grab some good deals for the time you are in town.
- My kids loved the Toy Story ride at Hollywood Studios. We should definitely have used a FastPass on that one and spared ourselves the queue. In fact, we should’ve FastPassed all of Disney.
- We missed seeing a lot of Downtown Disney. Downtown Disney is being renovated into a replica of small-town America circa the early 20th century and being renamed Disney Springs. One of Disney Springs’ four areas, The Landing, will be ready in early 2015.
My Personal Tips for Disney World
Although this list of tips for visiting Disney World is pretty good, I have a couple of other points to add.
- You will definitely enjoy the water parks on a hot summer afternoon. We would go to the Disney Parks in the morning and then laze in the water parks in the afternoon.
- The reason we missed Downtown Disney is that our kids were obsessed with DisneyQuest. It’s 5 floors of windowless, indoor, interactive fun, i.e., the biggest arcade I’ve ever seen. There are also virtual reality games (with height restrictions) and a younger children’s gaming area.
Except for a couple of things (those ‘claw’ games which are such a rip-off), the admission price will allow you to play arcade games to your heart’s content – racing simulators, 80’s games like PacMan and Tetris, air hockey etc. After a few hours, all you see and hear are blinking lights and the dinging of machines. But at least we weren’t standing in a massive line in the heat! Disney Quest is open from late morning to late at night so it’s easy to fit into your other plans. It would be criminal to come to Florida and not enjoy the sunshine!
- If you are looking for an easy down-time or rainy afternoon activity, our children loved the novelty of the AMC Downtown dine-in theatre. They got to combine a movie and a restaurant experience in one. Frankly, it’s just like being at home except (i) the bigger screen, (ii) ordering from a menu and (iii) it’s more expensive.
- Definitely take in as many of the night spectacles as you can. Each show is different and fairly spectacular. We had our children take naps in the afternoon so they could stay up later to see the night shows.
- With little kids the Disney magic is hard to beat. You should, however, check out some of the other theme parks. Our children loved Sea World because they love sea animals of any kind. All of these theme parks add up in price so you’ll need to pick and choose. In retrospect we would have picked a lesser Disney package so that we could have more time/money for other parks.
Go Forth and Enjoy Disney World!
Here’s a pretty magazine version of the article I linked to earlier which you can print out if you choose:
Of course, we have promised the children we will return to Orlando! The children will be older and we will spend less time at Disney and more time at the other parks. Next time, though, I will definitely be more prepared!