In a city full of world-class theme parks, Orlando’s most popular destination remains one of its first: Walt Disney World. For anyone who loves amusement parks, Walt Disney World is a must visit! However, with four theme parks and dozens of attractions, Disney World can be a little intimidating for first-time guests. For many, Disney World is a once in a lifetime vacation destination and you’ll want to make the most of your visit. Luckily, this guide will get you started on everything you need to know to plan a magical vacation. Keep reading to find out how to plan the perfect Walt Disney World Vacation!
Choosing Where to Stay
The first thing you will need to have an amazing vacation in Walt Disney World is a fantastic place to stay! Orlando is filled with seemingly endless resorts and hotels. Surrounding Walt Disney World, you’ll find dozens of hotels on property or near the Disney Springs resort area, and you may think that they are a good choice. Although there are perks to a theme park hotel, our Orlando rentals simply can’t be beat! Instead of staying in a standard size hotel room, our rentals are entire homes that can accommodate your whole family.
Enjoy all the perks of having an entire home rental property to yourself. Rather than stay in a crowded theme park hotel, our rentals are tucked away in private neighborhoods, allowing you to enjoy some peace and quiet after a long day in the parks.
Also, for guests staying for more than a few days, you’ll love having a fully equipped kitchen at your disposal. Save time and money by making a home-cooked meal for breakfast or dinner. Our rentals also feature amazing amenities that rival those of the pricey theme park hotels. Enjoy those extra special perks such as private pools, foosball and ping pong tables, high-speed Internet, and more!
Many of our properties also offer shared amenities like a private clubhouse movie theatre, basketball and tennis courts, and community pools featuring waterslides. With all of these amenities available through one of our rentals, there really is no reason to stay in a theme park hotel. Best of all? Our rentals are just minutes away from the parks! Finding the perfect place to stay is the first step to planning a dream Disney vacation, and our rentals are the best choice.
Ticketing and Park Hopping
Now that you’ve decided where to stay, it’s time to plan your days in the parks. Disney offers many types of ticket options depending on how you would like to plan your visit. Disney breaks down their ticket pricing into two categories: child, which is considered from ages 3-9; and adult, which is anyone 10 years old or older. Children under 3 get in free and do not need a ticket. From there, tickets are priced based on the number of days and the number of parks. For a one-day, one-park ticket, the adult price is $109 and the child price is $104. However, the more days you add to your ticket, the better the value you get out of your ticket! For example, if you choose to stay for five days, a 5-day pass for adults breaks down to just $88 per day. The number of days you choose is totally up to you, but it typically takes at least one full day to enjoy most of what each park has to offer. The longer you stay, the more fun you can have!
In addition to the one park per day tickets, Disney also offers a park hopper option. This is a great feature for those who may want to visit more than one park in a given day. When you purchase a park hopper, this gives you access to a second park starting at 2pm, giving you more flexibility to your Walt Disney World Vacation. This is a great feature to take advantage of if you aren’t interested in spending an entire day in one park, or if you want to begin your day in one park, but then decide to go to a second park for a show, fireworks, or a specific ride. For an additional $50 per ticket, it is a great way to get the most out of your trip.
Dining and Fast Passes – Best Done in Advance!
Now that you’ve booked your vacation rental and purchased your tickets, there are just a couple more things you’ll want to plan in advance of your trip. Disney offers fast passes for their most popular attractions, which allows you to skip the often-long lines and get on the rides almost instantly. These fast passes are a must for anyone looking to make the most out of their trip, as it can free up hours of time to enjoy other aspects of the parks. Typically, you can only book two fast passes per day of your trip, and they open up six months in advance. Once you have your tickets, you’ll want to go online and book your fast passes for the rides of your choice. This is also a great way to plan out your trip, so make sure you pick your fast passes based on what park you’ll be in on which day. Also, if you didn’t choose a park hopper ticket, make sure all of your fast passes on a given day are in the same park.
Disney dining reservations are also highly recommended to be booked in advance. These reservations are available six months in advance and are offered at all of the sit-down dining restaurants in the parks. Although there are plenty of quick service restaurants, it is nice to have at least one true dining experience, as the food and service is almost always excellent. If you didn’t book fast passes or dining reservations in advance, have no fear! Be sure to download the app to your phone and check it throughout the day. There are often last-minute cancellations, which means you can swoop in and snag a fast pass or dining reservation!
At Disney World, you’ll have lots of options on how to get to the parks. When staying in one of our vacation rental properties, the easiest way to get to the parks is by car. However, you may not want to rent a car or pay for parking at the parks, so you may want to consider booking a taxi service. It’s a convenient and relatively cheap way to get the parks for the day. For a magical experience, consider getting dropped off at the Transportation Center. From here, you can have a fun entrance to the parks, from taking the monorail to enjoying a ferry boat ride.
For those who purchased a park hopper ticket, there’s several options for traveling between parks. Disney offers a complimentary bus service that travels between all four parks. These are probably the most convenient mode of transportation, and they are air-conditioned, which makes them a wonderful way to travel on a warm Florida day. The monorail travels throughout Walt Disney World, allowing you to easily travel from park to park. Lastly, Disney recently debuted aerial gondolas that travel between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Enjoy views of the entire Disney property while you travel in style. For more spectacular views, ride the gondolas at night and try to time it along with the fireworks for a unique experience!
Magic Kingdom: Quintessential Disney Experience
For many, when you think of a Walt Disney World Vacation, you think of the Magic Kingdom. This park is where all the traditional Disney magic comes to life from the classic films that you know and love! Magic Kingdom is divided into separate lands that each feature their own theme: Tomorrowland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, and Main Street USA. Main Street, USA is the entrance to the park and is inspired by Walt’s childhood hometown. Here, you’ll find shops and restaurants exemplifying that small-town America feel, and at the end of the street sits the iconic Cinderella’s Castle.
In Tomorrowland, you can travel to the future and enjoy the popular thrill ride, Space Mountain. This roller coaster in the dark takes you on an adventure through space! For more family-friendly Tomorrowland attractions, consider the Carousel of Progress, People Mover, or Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Fantasyland celebrates the classic Disney fairytales and features classic rides such as It’s A Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight, and the Mad Tea Party. For a fairytale thrill ride, head to Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train that takes you on a Snow White-themed adventure! Liberty Square features the Haunted Mansion and Hall of Presidents, and in Frontierland you’ll find the famous thrill rides Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Last, but not least, Adventureland features attractions from all over the world, such as the Jungle Cruise, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly attractions or full-on roller coasters, Magic Kingdom has it all!
Beyond the attractions and rides, the Magic Kingdom offers some of the best entertainment in all of Walt Disney World! Here you’ll find amazing character interactions, parades, fireworks shows, and special entertainment events. Although many of these are currently unavailable, Disney still brings the magic with drive-by character interactions and special performances by the Dapper Dans singing group.
Here in Magic Kingdom, there are several classic Disney park treats that are a must eat! Churros and Mickey-shaped pretzels have become iconic treats here and are offered at many quick-service carts throughout the park. Another classic treat is the Dole Whip, a tasty pineapple soft serve from Adventureland that is a delicious way to cool off in the summer. For dining, the Be Our Guest restaurant is one of the most coveted reservations in Disney World! Here, you can dine for breakfast, lunch, or dinner in Beast’s Castle from the beloved Beauty & the Beast film. This is a must for anyone who loves the movie or simply wants to feel like a princess! Between the rides, attractions, and dining, the Magic Kingdom is truly a magical park.
Epcot: Travel Around the World
Each Disney park features unique attractions, events, and experiences that perfectly match the theme of the park. Disney’s Epcot park is all about travel. Here, you can travel around the world, under the sea, and into outer space and beyond! The centerpiece of Epcot is the Spaceship Earth attraction that famously is shaped like a giant golf ball. Inside, the Spaceship Earth attraction is one of Epcot’s most popular. A great attraction for all ages, this ride takes you through human history and technology. Another popular attraction in Epcot that is themed to human innovation is Journey Into Imagination With Figment. This ride introduces you to the mascot of Epcot, a mischievous dragon named Figment, who is sure to delight adults and little ones alike. Popular family-friendly attractions at Epcot include Frozen Ever After, the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, and The Seas with Nemo & Friends. For those that are more interested in thrill rides, be sure to ride Soarin’ Around the World, Test Track, and Mission: SPACE.
Although it has dozens of amazing rides, the entertainment of Epcot doesn’t end there! The main attraction here is The World Showcase, where you can travel around the world to over a dozen countries, from Mexico and Norway to Morocco, France, and the United Kingdom. Each country features food and drinks that exemplify the cultures of each nation, and you can purchase Disney-themed merch from each country as well. It’s a great way to show your national pride in the Disney way! The most popular sit-down restaurants in Epcot are the Teppan Edo restaurant in Japan and the Rose & Crown restaurant in the United Kingdom. In addition to great attractions and dining, you can also enjoy character interactions!
Animal Kingdom: Reconnect with the Wild
If you are an animal-lover, then Animal Kingdom is a must visit during your Walt Disney World vacation! Animal Kingdom is organized into several different lands that each celebrates the magic of nature and animals. The most popular attractions here are found in Pandora – The World of Avatar. This is the newest addition to Animal Kingdom that celebrates the beauty of the world from James Cameron’s iconic movie Avatar. Here, you’ll be transported to Pandora and enjoy some of the best rides in all of Disney World: Na’vi River Journey and Avatar Flight of Passage. Both of these are must rides! You’ll also want to visit Pandora at night, as the park recreates the beautiful bioluminescence of the movie.
Beyond Pandora, the land of Africa in Animal Kingdom features the Kilimanjaro Safari, which takes you through the lush African savannah to view live animals such as elephants, lions, and more. This is the centerpiece of the Disney wildlife conservation efforts and is also a great ride to rest your feet! The land of Asia features thrill rides such as the Kali River Rapids, a water ride that is a must visit for a summer vacation, and Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, an exciting roller coaster adventure through the Himalayas. Dinoland, U.S.A. celebrates dinosaurs, and features more kid-friendly attractions alongside the DINOSAUR thrill ride. You’ll find attractions of all thrill levels at Animal Kingdom!
In addition to great attractions, Animal Kingdom offers great dining. Popular quick service restaurants are Harambe Market and Sat’uli Canteen; however, the table service dining here is a great choice. Yak & Yeti Restaurant and Tiffins Restaurant are both delicious, slightly higher-end dining options. Entertainment options at Animal Kingdom are somewhat limited right now, but you can still plan on seeing a few characters around the parks. Normally, you’ll find lots of character interactions, light shows, wild animal presentations, and musical entertainment!
Hollywood Studios: Hollywood Glamour and Action
For those who love movies, Disney’s Hollywood Studios recreates all the magic of your favorite films. Hollywood Studios has recently been revamped with some of the most exciting attractions you’ll find in all of Walt Disney World! For those who love Star Wars, Galaxy’s Edge is a must visit. Here, you’ll find an entire land that is designed to transport you into the world of Star Wars, with everything from the shops to the restaurants to the Cast Member interactions helping make you feel as though you have stepped inside the world of the films. In Galaxy’s Edge, there are two attractions that are sure to be some of your favorites in all of Disney—Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. These two rides bring together some of the best of Disney Imagineering to create one-of-a-kind rides. Other popular activities in Galaxy’s Edge include the lightsaber and droid building experiences. Not only do you get to take home a customer souvenir, but you also get a fantastic experience to remember for a lifetime!
Beyond Galaxy’s Edge, you’ll find great thrill rides throughout Hollywood Studios. The Tower of Terror ride is an immersive experience that takes you on a journey through a haunted hotel in 1930’s Hollywood and is famous for its thrills and chills. For more of a traditional roller coaster experience, head to the Rock n’ Roller Coaster. This indoor roller coaster offers thrills set to the music of the classic rock band, Aerosmith. If you are looking for attractions for all ages, head to Toy Story Land, where you’ll find rides themed to the classic Pixar movie that are sure to delight little ones. Another popular attraction here is the newly debuted Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Train, an adventure ride with the iconic Disney characters that is perfect for children and adults alike.
In addition to the great rides, Hollywood Studios prides itself on its shows and entertainment. For the princess-obsessed, enjoy the Frozen Sing Along Celebration. Little ones will love the dining experiences with Mickey and Minnie or the Disney Junior Play & Dance musical celebration. You’ll find great shows and character interactions throughout the park! For dining in Hollywood Studios, look for reservations at Olga’s Cantina in Galaxy’s Edge or Hollywood & Vine. Both of these sit-down restaurants offer immersive dining experiences that are sure to delight the whole family. Meet your favorite characters and experience the magic of the movie firsthand with a day in Hollywood Studios!
Special Events and Occasions
In addition to all the amazing attractions, dining, and entertainment that Walt Disney World offers all throughout the year, Disney really knows how to keep guests excited with special events throughout the year. Epcot has three main festivals throughout the year that remain popular and keep people coming back year after year to experience them! The International Flower and Garden Festival features beautifully designed landscaped installations, themed and shaped to look like your favorite characters from Disney’s movies. Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival expands the international options for food and drink. At this festival, you’ll receive a passport where you can get a stamp in return for dining or drinking at each country and there are special challenges that reward you with a free food item for completing. Also popular is the International Festival of the Arts, where you can pick up unique art pieces featuring popular Disney characters and landscapes from a variety of artists.
In addition to these annual events, Walt Disney World is getting ready to celebrate a very special event: its 50th anniversary! Starting on October 1st, 2021 and lasting for 18 months, Disney is rolling out new and exciting events, attractions, and entertainment. In Magic Kingdom, Cinderella’s Castle will be newly painted in a special color palette to revamp it for the 50th anniversary celebration. They are also planning to debut a new fireworks show spectacular that is sure to delight. Disney fireworks shows never fail to impress, and they are sure to make it extra special for such an important milestone. In Epcot, Disney will be debuting the newest attraction in France, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. This trackless ride takes you through the streets and restaurants in France in the spirit of the popular Pixar movie, Ratatouille. There are also more events that haven’t yet been announced to look forward to!
Plan Your Walt Disney World Vacation Today!
As you can see, there is no shortage of fun to be had at Walt Disney World. It’s a place that you can visit again and again and still find something new every time you return. One visit here and you’ll see why people flock from all over the world to spend a vacation here. Make memories to last a lifetime with a magical Walt Disney World Vacation!