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Wrapping up the “Best Day Ever, Disney in 1 Day” series, today I am focusing on doing Animal Kingdom in a day. Animal Kingdom combines my two favorite loves (aside from my family), and that is : animals and Disney. Animal Kingdom also has some AHHHHMAZING food! With the 2017 addition of the new Pandora- World of Avatar, things just got even better in the jungle! Get ready for a swingin safari….here is Animal Kingdom in 1 Day.
But first…..Flight Time!
Without a doubt, Flights of Passage has become the #1 most coveted ride in all of Disney World. Getting a FastPass+ for this ride isn’t a mere suggestion, it is a definite if you want to be able to ride this possibly more than once. If you were fortunate to be able to score a FastPass+ for this ride, you have a couple of choices. You can head straight for Flights of Passage as soon as the park opens (so that you will get at least 2 rides in throughout the course of your day), or, you may choose the Na’vi River Journey as your first choice and then hop in the standby line for Flights of Passage. Either way, this is definitely a ride that you will want to do multiple times and the best time to catch it is early in the morning before the crowds hit.
Safari then Sweets
One of my favorite things about Animal Kingdom is Kilimanjaro Safaris. I love the oversized jeep ride, the open air feel, seeing the animals move in their own spaces. I love how close you are able to get to (some) of the animals. You feel as if you are truly in another country, which is what Disney does best. I suggest doing this early in the morning because that is when the animals are moving around the most. You can also do this later in the day. I have been on the safari during lunch hours, and that is “typically” when the animals are resting and not as active.
After doing all of this, you will definitely need some morning fuel to push through until lunch. Why not take a pause for some sweets? Here are a few suggestions:
- Tamu Tamu Refreshments: Chocolate Waffle Topped with Vanilla Ice Cream
- Restaurantosaurus: Warm Chocolate Turtle Brownie
- Yak & Yeti Restaurant: Fried Wontons or Sorbet
- Zuri’s Sweets Shop: Cake Pops, Animal Cookies, Fudge, and several other delicious choices.
After getting a little morning fuel, you have enough time and energy to trek ahead and do another ride before stopping for lunch. This could be a great time to do the popular Expedition Everest, home of the Yeti! This was a family favorite due to the climb, the view, the yeti, and the way in which you travel forwards and backwards. Amazing experience. We had alot of fun screaming out of my crew when we did this! The “best” time to ride this is in the evening. You can definitely try it during this time, and the best way to do this would be as a single rider Then, head back later in the evening to do it again, maybe using a FastPass+ for it.
If time allows, you could sneak in one more ride before lunch. I would suggest DINOSAUR.
Buffet with Buddies
Time for lunch, and what better way than to eat with some of your favorite Disney characters? I suggest Tusker House. It has delicous buffet style food and you get to see some familiar safari friends as you dine. Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy will make their way to your table, sign your autograph books, pose for photos, and just look so darn cute you won’t want them to leave.
After lunch, the crowds tend to be pretty thick and it is definitely at its warmest time of the day. One of the best ways to spend this time of day is by weaving in and out of the heat. Watch a show, do a ride, then repeat. Here is my suggested list of things to do during these hours:
- Festival of the Lion King (one of my favorite shows ever!)
- Finding Nemo- The Musical
- Use your FastPass+ for Flights of Passage as a possiblility here
- Maharajah Jungle Trek
- Kali River Rapids (you will NEED a poncho for this ride!!!!)
- Meet Disney Pals
By now, you have had a fun filled day, experienced things on so many glorious levels, but you will definitely need some down time to enjoy more of the fantastic food offerings that Animal Kingdom has.
If you chose Tusker House for lunch, a great supper meal would be Tiffins. It boasts one of the best restaurants in all of Disney World. Another option is Yak & Yeti Restaurant (we love their Pork Pot Stickers) or Flame Tree BBQ.
Your first stop should be the Tree of Life Awakenings. The famous “Tree of Life” (as seen in my photo above) lights up in glorious beauty by the use of amazing animal projections. Head over to the Rivers of Light Nighttime experience where guests can enjoy the beauty and magic of nature coming to life.
If you are able to experience the Extra Magic Hours, then you definitely want to head back over and try Flights of Passage…again. You could even try to squeeze in the beautiful nighttime version of Expedition Everest. Rides are so different at night, with everything you can see.
There you have it! A “Best Day Ever” event for one day at Animal Kingdom. Don’t forget to contact me to plan your Best Day Ever, whether it be at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, a Disney Cruise, a stay at Aulani, or jetting off on Adventures by Disney. I can also make your dreams come true at Universal Studios in Orlando. Find me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at www.magical-vacations.com/debbie.lands See ya soon, pals!
Continuing the “Best Day Ever, Disney in 1 Day” series, today I am focusing on doing Hollywood Studios in a day. I love Hollywood Studios. I love the throwback vibe that you see and feel when you enter the park. You feel as if you have been transported back in time to a roaring part of our culture’s history. The storefronts are beautiful, the cast members are dressed in a nostalgic fashion, and for my trips there, I have always loved being there. Also, if you are traveling after June 30, 2018, you will get to experience the all new Toy Story Land. Plans for a new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Mickey and Minne Runaway Railway are set for opening in 2019. Get ready to “Rock and Roll”….here is Hollywood Studios in 1 Day.
But first….Rock & Roll!
Whether you choose a Fastpass+ for this ride or you try to get there are rope drop, if you are looking for a thrill ride, head over to the Rock & Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. After completing this, the rides that typically have the longer wait would be Tower of Terror and Toy Story Mania. You can choose which route to take after getting off the Rock & Roller Coaster, depending on whether you are a thrill seeker or want more of family ride. Neither choice will disappoint. My daughter’s favorite ride at HS is Tower of Terror, while my son loves Toy Story Mania.
Mid-Morning Must Do’s
Time to indulge in a power snack to get you through the rest of the morning. I recommend these places to get that grab and go snack:
- Sweet Spells (my favorite snack shop at HS!) Check out the colored/flavored popcorn, smores, cookies, whoopie pies, chocolate dipped marshmallow wand….the list goes on and on
- Starring Roles: Check out the Chocolate Butterfinger Cupcake….yum!
- Popcorn from a kiosk. Disney popcorn is extra magical! It comes gluten free and tastes oh so delicious!
Launch Your Next Adventure
Star Wars fans love Hollywood Studios because there are so many things to do pertaining to this fan favorite film franchise. Here are just a few of the things you can experience:
- Meet & Greets: It’s not a day at HS without seeing some character favorites such as Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, or Wookie
- March of the First Order: This commands your attention….watch as the Stormtroopers and Captain Phasma make their way through for this entertainment experience.
- Star Wars Launch Bay: explore a large assortment of Star Wars memorabilia and large-scale replicas, purchase merchandise and play the latest Star Wars interactive video games.
- Jedi Training: You have to register for this early, so if this is important to you, do this prior to getting on early morning rides. Then, when it is time, you will receive a 20 minute interactive Jedi Training session in which you will come face to face with Darth Vader.
- Star Tours: An amazing ride/experience. Hold on tight, this 3D tour of the galaxy will leave you wanting more!
Blast into the Past During Lunch
I have two lunchtime recommendations. Whatever you choose for lunch, choose the other for dinner. I recommend making advanced dinner reservations or to take the stress away, let me do this for you!
- 50’s Prime Time Cafe
- Sci-Fi Dine In Theater Restaurant
Both of these establishments are known for their ambiance, and this is a great way to take a break from the sun and relax with your family. We are repeat guests to these establishments because our kiddos loved it so much!
To avoid the heat, there are some incredible things to take in during your post food-coma experience from lunch. After taking in these attractions, it will be time to fuel up with a quick snack. Refer to my list from above to power through the late afternoon hours.
- Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage
- Muppet Vision 3D
- For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing Along Experience
- Mickey and Minnie Starring in Red Carpet Dreams
- Voyage of The Little Mermaid
It should also be noted that there are great character meet and greets throughout Hollywood Studios. My son was really into getting as many photos and autographs as possible, so we spent one entire afternoon tracking down all the characters we could find while my husband took the older kids in a different directions.
Also as I mentioned above, I would suggest your supper to be at the other table service location that you did not choose for lunch. Other great places for a quicker meal would be:
- ABC Commisary
- Backlot Express
- The Trolley Car Cafe
There are also Dinner Experience Packages and Dessert Experience Packages that tie into the nightly fireworks.
Finally, Fantastic Fireworks
This is where you have to let your interests guide your decision for ending your evening. It comes down to two big choices: Team Mickey/Disney character favorites or Team Star Wars.
- Fantasmic!: Playing along with the movie of the same name, Fantasmic includes incredible visual effects including: fireworks, music, characters, live actors, water effects, pyrotechnics, decorated boat floats, lasers, mist screen projections and audio-animatronics.
- Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular: The force is strong as you burst into a galaxy far, far away during this nighttime spectacular including: features fireworks, searchlights, fog effects, lasers, projection mapping, and fire.
There you have it! A “Best Day Ever” event for one day at Hollywood Studios. Stay tuned for my next post continuing “Best Day Ever” featuring one day plans for Animal Kingdom. Don’t forget to contact me to plan your Best Day Ever, whether it be at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, a Disney Cruise, a stay at Aulani, or jetting off on Adventures by Disney. I can also make your dreams come true at Universal Studios in Orlando. Find me at: email@example.com or visit my website at www.magical-vacations.com/debbie.lands See ya soon, pals!
Today’s topic in my blog series is how to choose the right park ticket for your family’s vacation. Of the choices and options that we have discussed up to this point, this is one of the easier ones, I feel. It is easy to narrow down the days that you will need first, so let us jump right into that.
Tickets: How Many Days?
I have been that person before! I remember being so excited for our first trip back after so many years and wanting to cram in AS MUCH time as possible in the parks. If this sounds like you, then you might want a park ticket to be equal to the number of days you will be vacationing OR one day less. For example, if you are staying 6 nights and 7 days, you would want the 7 day ticket option IF it made economical and physical sense that you could be in the parks all 7 days. Some people have a late or early flight on their arriving or departing days, and that takes away one day immediately. So, the first option to decide will be narrowed down to how many days can we REALLY physically be in the parks and get our money’s worth out of it?
Not “Every” Day
I have also been this person. When you choose a Disney World, Disneyland, or Universal vacation, you go into it knowing there will be a fair amount of walking, while definitely having the time of your life. There are vacation goers like myself who know that you will need to write in a day to relax at the resorts, which is exactly what we did during our last trip. We took one day, spent it at the pools, lounged around, right during the middle of our vacation week, and we truly felt it recharged our batteries. We still watched the fireworks from the Polynesian beach during the evening, and we definitely still felt we were vacationing at Disney. But, it gave us some peace. It gave us time together. We moved as fast as turtles that day and enjoyed every minute of it. We had our lunch by the pool, supper in the room (the best pizza I have ever had in my life!), and just laughed and enjoyed each other. So, for our 8 days and 7 nights we were there for this trip, we didn’t do an 8 day ticket. We did 6 days worth of tickets. One reason was what I just stated, taking a day to relax. The other reason was that we arrived later in the evening on our first night, and it wasn’t physically worth it to pay for a ticket, when we were already jet lagged and just needed to rest so we could be ready to go the next day.
Tickets: Park Hopping vs No Park Hopping
The idea of park hopping is that your ticket allows you to visit more than one park per day. So if you started your day off in Magic Kingdom, but really wanted to end the evening at Epcot for their Illuminations fireworks festivities, you could do that. If you even wanted to park hop over to another park that had Extra Magic Hours that evening (later than normal “business” hours), you could do that, too! It gives you the most flexibility with your ticket as far as seeing more in a day. Your Disneyland Park Hopper would allow you to venture into both parks in the same day, while your Disney World Park Hopper would allow you to venture into all four parks in the same day (if you chose to, but I can only imagine, that would be exhausting, even though exhilarating). Universal has a system called Park to Park, which is essentially the same idea, just a different name for their brand. They offer a Single Day ticket, with the Park-to-Park option for their two theme parks. The price of park hopping is higher than having a one park per day ticket, but each family has to determine the value of that dollar and what they want to accomplish during their vacation.
Tickets: Water Park Options and More
Park Hopper Plus
There is also the Park Hopper Plus option at Disney World, where you can add on the option of other very popular Disney World attractions to your ticket. You can also buy those separately, but this allows you to work them into your park hopping options. With a 3 day Park Hopper Plus ticket, for example, you would get 3 visits, or with a 4 day Park Hopper, you would get 4 visits. The exception to the rule is a 1 day ticket allows for 2 visits. The attractions offered are: Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Complex, and Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course. These attractions are amazing! You could easily take a day alone to hit the water parks, and then another day to try out some rounds of golf and head over to ESPN!
Universal offers a new water park called Volcano Bay and it has been a huge hit with tourists. Tickets can be purchased separately for this or you can combine them into a Multi Day ticket with a 3-Park Ticket, giving access to all three parks. 2-Park Tickets allow access to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure each day. 1-Park tickets allow access to 1 Park per day.
Tickets: Annual Passholders
This is my final ticket option I will be discussing with you today. Annual Passholders are an amazing option if you find yourself having the ability to vacation at your favorite Disney or Universal destination several times a year. There are several different tiers when deciding which annual pass is right for you. I am an annual passholder, and for me, one benefit I love is the shopping and dining discounts we receive in the parks from being a passholder. There is even an app that honors passholders, and gives discounts on merchandise. Just like everything else, this is not an option for everyone, and you must decide whether or not this is something that would be worth your money.
Tomorrow’s Topic: MagicBands, FastPasses, and more!
I would love to give you a custom quote on a Disney and/or Universal vacation package that allows you all the flexibility that you need on a dream vacation. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me get started for you! I would love to give you a free Minnie Box customized for your family!
Continuing my blog on big decision making for the first time at Disney (or the first time in a long time at Disney), I am moving on to what to pack in your daily backpack. While there will be many travelers who won’t need a full backpack for their days in the parks, there will be just as many who will, and if you were anything like I was, I went to the internet searching for what the “essentials” were when trying to be prepared.
Before I begin with what to pack, it is just as important to first discuss geography. This was a key element in not only what to pack in my backpack but how much for each of my trips. For our trips in which we stayed at a value resort and a couple of the moderates we have stayed in, and we were a further bus ride away from “home” for the week, I would stuff our backpacks until I couldn’t even fit another penny inside. I wanted (and needed) everything to be inside because if we forgot something, we would either have to buy it (if possible) at the parks, or we would have to just be without it for the day. Especially for those days at our value resorts, for me, anyway, when I didn’t plan to return for several hours.
Now, for our trips when we stayed at the Polynesian, and were a short monorail ride away from being “home”, it wasn’t as much of a let down if we forgot something. We were a little closer should we “have” to go back. I also split my days up a little more as well when we stayed there, and didn’t have to pack my bags as full.
Finally, for days when we have traveled to Universal….since we have always been staying at Disney when we visit Universal, I usually just take a few “hip packs” with us and cram as much as we can in there. Universal has great travel lockers to store backpacks in, whereas Disney allows the backpacks on the rides. So, we had to be prepared for a different feel while at Universal, and we took just the absolute essentials with us on those days.
So, now that our geography lesson is over, we can jump right in. To make it a little easier to follow, I divided up my list into categories.
- Phones: make sure they are fully charged and storage ready to handle taking plenty of photos.
- Portable electronic chargers and cords
- Waterproof phone case/bag, for the water rides OR those pop up Florida showers….speaking of…..
- Ponchos: I can NOT stress enough that you must be prepared for a Florida shower. It will happen!!!
- Travel Umbrella
- Lip Sunscreen (a must for me)
- Water Misters
- Bug Spray
- Jacket: for those traveling during the slightly cooler days/nights
- Moleskin/Blister band-aids: This is about as important as having a poncho! Even the most prepared family (us) will have someone end up with a blister on the first day of the trip. We have now learned for our blister prone people, to begin our trips with these on as a preventative!
- First Aid Kit
- Wet Wipes
- Travel Deoderant
- Body Glide
- Hair brush/ponytail holder
- Baby powder (because your feet/body will stink after a bit and no one wants to sit next to you during a show when you smell of sweat!)
- Travel perfume/cologne
- Water/Water bottles: There are many water fountains available for a quick fill up.
- Snacks: Fruit snacks, granola bars, cheese crackers
- Gum: Disney does NOT sell gum in the parks so if you want it, you will need to bring your own inside!
- Some type of breath mint
- Flavor packets: A hit with my kiddos. I would bring a stash of sugar free lemonade or fruit punch to add to their waters.
- Park maps, even though you can look via your smartphone, it is always smart to have a backup, and sometimes easier.
- MagicBands, Park Tickets
- Bitbelts for your MagicBands: I have never had a Magic Band fall off, but this was just an extra added measure of safety. You definitely don’t want your MagicBand to fall off and lose it!
- Autograph books and pens (optional but SO fun!)
- Lanyards with trading pins (optional to wear/do)
- Ears to wear (optional, but again, when in Rome….)
- Cash/Credit Card: While you can have everything programmed to your MagicBand and pay that way, technology fails us sometimes and just like the park maps, it is good to have a backup.
- Hidden Mickey’s…..ok, so you can’t “carry” this. But there is a Hidden Mickey’s book you can buy AND an app you could download. We loved searching for them while waiting for a ride or while on our way to our next restaurant.
- Lots of Pennies! Pressed Pennies are the cheapest souvenir you can purchase at Disney! Take some shiny pennies with you and store them in an old medicine bottle. You can even do Pressed Quarters. Our kids have LOVED doing this and you can even purchase books to store them in permanently after you are home.
- Glow Sticks: Super fun for fireworks time. Glow bracelets and necklaces are even nice just to have around your kiddos during the evening hours.
- Towels: I always pack one with us, to dry things off or to sit down and watch a parade.
- Change of clothes/socks: This is truly optional. I, myself, have not done this for all of my trips. Socks, YES, but not clothes.
Now…..there were two backpacks pictured above…..one was mine, and one was my daughters. A lot of times, we will split up the items, so mine isn’t so heavy. Somedays, she would take her camera with her, so she could capture those great quality photos. She really loves taking pictures and is honestly, very good at it. So, she needs a bag with her to carry it around and a backpack helps.
Keep in mind, I don’t carry ALL of these things ALL day long. I spend some time each night before we go to bed getting our bags ready for our morning or our next day. It would be too heavy to lug ALL of this around all day long, however, as I mentioned before, I DID do this when we stayed at one of the value resorts, simply because I was stubborn and didn’t want to take the 30 minute bus ride back and then back again. Plus, waiting for the bus, both ways. I felt it would take too much of my day, and we had things to do. So, I hauled it around. I was honestly glad I did then, but I would do it differently now. Plus, I also have another child who wants to carry things with her, and we can split things up a bit.
Also….leave room for some souvenirs, unless you have time to have them sent back to your room.
I have two more thoughts for this series, and tomorrow, I will jump into Park Tickets. What to buy, how many days, what are the options, etc.
If you would love a FREE custom quote on a Disney or Universal trip, please feel free to email me at: email@example.com