I can hardly believe that it’s been two years since we went to Florida, but we are soon to visit again, so I’ve really enjoyed looking back over some of our pictures and remembering the fun times we had. I’ve got a few helpful tips and money saving ideas to share for people who are planning a visit – I hope you’ll find them useful!
We chose to only go to the Disney parks on this holiday, as Henry was just about to turn 5 and we felt that it was ideal for him – Plus he was tall enough to go on almost all of the rides. From his perspective, it is like torture to see a great looking ride, only to be told you can’t go on it!
You can do Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Typhoon Lagoon all in a day, each – but very long days. The Magic Kingdom is the biggest park by far – in total, we went for 4 days and still didn’t get it all done! It can take over an hour to get from the car to the entrance, so bear that in mind! When we visited, the Disney car parks charged $15 a day, but if you arrived after 5pm they let you park for free, which is great if you’ve had a relaxing/shopping/pool day and just want to go at night for one of the shows.
We particularly liked watching the various performances that Disney put on during the day, especially the parades. Seeing the smile on Henry’s face was priceless to us! He could hardly take it all in – They were full of colour, music, characters and energy. They are on at different points of the day, so make sure that you pick up a leaflet upon entrance which tells you exactly where and when they are. Most of the parks offer a night time show – and all are worth seeing. They are magic! Fireworks, light effects, water effects etc. The kids will love them – Guaranteed! My tip is to get there early to hold a space because they get incredibly busy.
You do A LOT of walking around the parks – so be prepared for tired legs and tired kids! The best time to get there is first thing in a morning so that you get good parking spaces and get on some rides before the queues get big. The best tip is to make your way right to the back of the park right at the start of your day so that you’re not following the crowds around.
All the Disney parks offer a “Fast Pass” which gives you the choice of 3 rides per day. They tell you which time to be at your chosen 3 in order to jump the queue. You get an 1-hour time slot to arrive. You need to get these booked in as soon as you arrive, but book them for after lunch ideally, as that gives you the chance to enjoy rides in the morning when the queues are 10-15 mins long, but jump the queues in the afternoon when the queues are 90 mins or so. I’d certainly advise you to download the MyDisneyExperience app. It tells you how long all the queues are for each of the rides in real-time so you can see which ones are the most popular that day and if any are out of action. It was really useful – and free!
The Typhoon Lagoon water park was such fun! Because we visited in February, it was the only Disney water park that was open at that time, but quite honestly it didn’t concern us that we weren’t able to visit Blizzard Beach because, at that one, there were more attractions there that Henry wouldn’t have been allowed on due to his height. Maybe if you’re children are older you’d want to check if it will be open before you book? We had such a relaxed time – I loved going on the lazy river, and Henry loved the wave machine in the main swimming pool area. As you can see from the pictures, he had a whale of a time!
I’d happily recommend Florida as a family destination. It is quite expensive, yes, but there are lots of ways to save money when you’re out there. We bought a “Kids Eat Free” card on the internet (about £10 each) before we went, and they will get you a free kids meal for each paying adult. Chains such as Ponderosa, Sizzler, McDonald’s etc. all accept them. There are plenty of Walmart stores around, so you can stock up and take drinks and snacks with you if you want. We found that the best value for money restaurant is Ponderosa, where you order a main dish, and then the rest is buffet style – and all you can eat!
If you enjoy shopping for clothes, then I have some other tips to share too! There are two huge outlet shopping centres called Premium Outlets. They are great for shopping, and you can spend a whole day there, but we found that the Lake Buena Vista outlet shopping centre sells mostly the same items but is an awful lot cheaper. At the time we went, we spotted exactly the same clothes at prices 30% or more discounts. At the Premium Outlets, you can go to Customer Services in the food hall and for $5 you can buy a discount voucher which gives you 10% off here and there… if you were planning on buying a lot it’s worth getting the voucher, but my tip is to bypass those venues all together and go straight to the Lake Buena Vista if you’re after the biggest savings. A lot of Disney paraphernalia can be bought in the supermarkets. Henry wanted a Mickey Mouse soft toy which was $35 in the Disney parks but we got the exact same one in Walmart for $15. A lot of the stuff you’ll see in the Disney stores are exclusive though, so only expect to buy generic stuff elsewhere.
I hope you’ve found my tips interesting! I’ve made a detailed list of the best things to do at each Disney park, and you’ll find some more advice too!
Enjoy your trip!
Don’t bother wasting one of your fast passes on the nighttime show at Epcot – There are plenty of viewing places “Around The World” and you’ll find that the kids will be shattered as it’s the show that starts the latest, so you’ll be better to position yourself nearer the exit anyway for a faster getaway.
The night time show is extremely popular, and if you can save a fast pass for this, it will at least guarantee you a space. Lots of people get turned away, so get there early.
The nighttime shows are fab. They get very so get there early but don’t waste a fast pass on it. Don’t miss the electrical parade either!