Going to Disney for the first time can be daunting, so I asked a friend who has never been to Disney World to ask me their top 10 questions to help make some lives easier!
How do you get around Disney? What transport options are there?
Well, there are multiple forms of transport in Disney World. To give you an idea of size, Disney is approximately the size of San Francisco, or Manchester for anyone from the UK, so walking between parks is not an option - they are often separated by a highway! Disney has bus transportation from all Disney resorts and parks that all guests can take for free!
There are also monorails, boats and a soon to be sky liner! The monorail is a good way to get between Epcot and the Magic Kingdom and most Magic Kingdom resort hotels. You can take a boat from Magic Kingdom to multiple resorts on Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, including the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Polynesian Resort, Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge Resort. Not all of these have water access from the Magic Kingdom. You can also access Disney Springs from Port Orleans Resorts using the Sassagoula River!
What are the best snacks in Disney World?
Disney has multiple snack options in all of its parks and resorts and you can make serious use of your Disney Dining Plan if you have it. There are a lot of sweet snacks if you have a sweet tooth. You can get anything from a Mickey pretzel or a bagel and cream cheese to a rice krispie treat or an ice cream. The Food and Wine Festival, Flower and Garden Festival, Epcot Festival of the Arts or the Epcot Festival of the Holidays are also great places for snacks where you can get small portions of various foods!
When is the best time to visit Disney World?
Disney is magical every time of year, however, some months are busier than other. If you aren't restricted to school holidays, September is a good time to go. The weather has cooled down from August slightly and all UK school children have gone back to school. If you are restricted to school holidays, the end of August tends to be quieter than the start of it. Easter can be a fairly busy time for Disney World as well. The busiest time of year to visit is Christmas, I think that is fairly obvious! I have been at Christmas before and still to this day is my favourite time of year to visit. Magic Kingdom is the busiest park on Christmas Day and tends to reach capacity very quickly, so if you are there for Christmas Day, try one of the other parks!
What is there to do outside of the parks?
Short answer: tons! Disney Springs is a shopping village with many different stores, restaurants and entertainment; unlike the parks, Disney Springs stays open until around 2am! Exploring all the Disney resorts is also a great thing to do outside the parks. Each Disney resort is themed different to the other and make for some good photos! There are also two crazy golf courses on Disney property, one located at Blizzard Beach and the other near Hollywood Studios. For a nice evening out, I can recommend the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk has stores, restaurants and entertainment offerings and you can see both Epcot and Hollywood Studios' firework shows!
What is a Magic Band?
A Magic Band is a key to your holiday! If you are staying on property, you will be either sent your Magic Band in the mail (US residents only) or be able to collect your Magic Bands at check in at your resort. Your Magic Band will unlock your room, get entry into the parks, hold your FastPass reservations, carry your Dining Plan if you have one, and be used to charge things to your room if you put a card against it. Magic Bands come in a variety of colours and now even come with paid upgrades if you want to! Magic Bands are waterproof and can be worn in the water parks, swimming pools and the shower!
We don't have a lot of time, what are the must-see attractions?
Each park has a ton of must-see attractions, whether that is a ride, show or other entertainment offering. You obviously can't do everything in one day, unless you are super lucky and plan well. Everyone has different must sees, so I have put below my three must sees for each park if you don't have all the time in the world.
Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Happily Ever After, Haunted Mansion
Epcot: Soarin', Living with the Land, World Showcase
Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage, The Festival of the Lion King, Kilimanjaro Safaris
Hollywood Studios: Frozen Sing Along Celebration, Tower of Terror and Fantasmic
What makes Disney different?
Disney feels like a whole new world (see what I did there...!) and there is nothing that beats driving under that big Walt Disney World sign and feeling all your worries melt away. Disney in general is so immersive that you can forget where you are; there are so many different sights, smells and experiences for you to do both in the parks and in different places on property. For those of you from the UK, it puts our theme parks to shame. Every night there is a firework show, the Cast Members always go the extra mile, and you have everything you would ever need on your doorstep.
I went to Disney as a child so I've seen it before. What is different?
Disney is constantly evolving and year upon year there are different things to see and do. There can be a new restaurant, new attraction or even a whole new land for you to explore and I can guarantee there will be at least 10 new things if you haven't been in a number of years. I have been so many times and each time there is something new for me to explore. If you are a die hard fan like me, the magic never loses its touch and you can find the joy in the smallest of changes. If you aren't a Disney fan and you are being dragged around by family, I guarantee you will still have an amazing time. Disney announces major updates throughout the year, but mostly announces projects at the D23 event in Anaheim every other year so you can keep up-to-date on regular changes.
What benefits do you get from staying at a Disney Resort?
You get so many benefits from staying at a Disney resort that it makes them top choice for me. If you arrive at Orlando International Airport (MCO) you have the option of a free transfer to your resort hotel on the Magical Express. The Magical Express isn't just a normal transfer, it is usually a Disney branded coach that plays a dedicated Disney video telling you about the parks on your journey! You also benefit from resort transportation between the parks, Disney Springs and other resorts, all of which can be viewed on the My Disney Experience app on your phone. Disney resort guests also have access to Extra Magic Hours. These are additional hours in the mornings or evenings that the parks are open exclusively to resort guests. I have been known to be in Magic Kingdom until 2am before! Times can be found on the My Disney Experience app, on your resort TV, or pick up a times guide from your hotel lobby. You can also benefit from merchandise shipping straight to your resort so you don't have to carry your purchases around with you.