After our day out at Sea World, we got up bright and early and took our gigantic mini-van off to The Animal Kingdom. My partner had done most of the research for this holiday as it was his treat, so I wasn’t aware that each kingdom was actually a separate theme park prior to going. According to his research, The Animal Kingdom and The Magic Kingdom are the best ones for families with young children, and he also researched that we’d need 1 day to do The Animal Kingdom an 2 for The Magic Kingdom.
I was expecting it to be very ‘theme park’ but was genuinely delighted and surprised to find it was not tacky, It was lovely to see our young daughter so in awe of meeting the ‘real’ Pooh Bear, Mickey Mouse and especially Minne. She was desperate for a pair of Minnie ears by the end of the day, and although I was determined not to get an autograph book to get the character signatures, by the end of the day, we relented.
I was literally blown away by the attention to detail in the Animal Kingdom, especially in the way that the different countries were so well themed, right down to the little stalls, retail outlets and food venders. The Fast Pass System was fab too. In the UK, they make you pay for fast pass services at theme parks, but I thought that the way Disney operated it was very well done, and made queuing much less of a problem than I had anticipated. They also operated a parent swap scheme, so you could even have been super cheeky and had 2 goes on fast passes if you had each got a parent swap with your fast pass tokens, though to be honest, we didn’t diddle the system. The Everest ride was my favourite. I wont spoil it, but there was a twist to it, and it was great.
Of the whole day we all agreed that the Animal Safari in Africa was the best part of the Animal Kingdom… It’s easy to forget that you’re actually in a theme park in Disney, and not out in Nairobi (apart from the accents of the safari jeep drivers). The animals literally roam as if wld, and we were held up for AGES because a rhino was standing it’s ground in the pathway of our car, another ranger had to drive between us and the rhino to ensure our safety.
We stayed at a Disney hotel for the two nights between our stay. It’s definitely quite nice to do so, even though the one we stayed in wasn’t exactly luxurious, the pool and exterior of the hotel were very fun with lots of Disney decor. We stayed in the Fantasia Block of the Disney All Star Movie Resort where Mickey’s want spouted water into the pool as a fountain from above..
On day 2 we took the Ferry to The Magic Kingdom, and for our little girl, who is Disney Princess MAD, it was like meeting all of her super-heroes at once seeing Cinderella’s castle in the distance. As a parent, it was so fulfilling to see her wonderment.
We paid for Lunch with the Princesses at Cinderella’s castle, and it was well worth the £100 or so that it cost. Theme park food is expensive and bland at best, but this food was actually restaurant quality and all of the princesses bar Jasmine, Tiana and Rapunzel were there. This saved us HOURS of queuing to visit the princesses for their pictures and autographs, and they gave us all little gifts and a professional picture of us with Cinderella framed, so we thought that it was excellent value! The only thing that we didn’t manage to book in time was a make over at the Bibbidy-bobbidy Boutique. There is one at the Disney Village, and one at The Magic Kingdom, and they get booked up MONTHS in advance!
The Electric Parade, Light show and Fireworks are breathtakingly magical, even as an adult! This is one I am very pleased to have ticked off my list, especially whilst my daughter was still young enough to believe in all of the magic.
MAGICAL FEELING RATING – 10/10 – I was sceptical, but it’s hard to find fault with Disney World. It surpassed all of my expectations on every level. The look on my daughter’s face is something I will take to the grave.
- If you have young children, The Animal Kingdom and The Magic Kingdom are the highest recommended.
- If you want to queue for the princesses, get in line early (at the time of writing, Rapunzel is the latest craze, and if you weren’t in the queue by approximately 45 minutes-1 hour before her appearance time, you might not be in luck… Yes REALLY!)
- If you want to see the Iconic Castle and fireworks display, you will need to visit the Magic Kingdom
- If you have a little girl who likes Disney Princesses, it is worth booking a meal with the Princesses, the food is the best in the park, with bottomless drinks, you will avoid queuing to see about 4 of the princesses, plus receive a professional photo and some goodies
- If you want your daughter to go to her meal with the princesses ‘made-over’ (a lot did) book it months in advance (we tried 2 months in advance and it was already fully booked).
- If you do not manage to get this booked, ensure that you take a costume for her to wear so that she wont feel left out
- Take a frozen bottle of water with you at the end of the day so that as it thaws you will still have a cold drink
- Take something warm to wear in the evening. Some of the parks are open until midnight, and it’s chilly when you leave
- Try starting from the back of the park at the start of the day, and working your way forwards, as you will work agains the flow of people doing the opposite
- Get the big rides out of the way early in the day, to avoid the longest queues
- Make use of fast pass tickets on rides with long queues
- Take advantage of parent swap tickets instead of using 2 fast passes on adult rides
- Avoid eating at lunchtime, and snack throughout the day instead to take advantage of the shorter queues at lunch time
- Collect one of the cards and have the professionals take your pictures, there is an option to purchase them ALL digitally after your holiday if you like them, and you are not pressured. It’s better than getting a sloppy tourist to take one with the top of the castle chopped off, or your feet missing!
- Allow at least 2 days for the Magic Kingdom
- Get seated in a good spot well ahead of the street parades and Fireworks as it gets chaotic
- If you’re staying in a Disney Resort/hotel – take advantage of the Extra Magical Hours (Golden hours in Paris) that allow exclusive use of the park to these guests.
- Visit Disney World, Orlando rather than Paris if you have the chance. Hearing Disney announcements or the character’s talking in French, just isn’t as magical!
- Try to visit once when they’re young enough for the magic to still be believable, and again when they’re big enough to do the rides if you can afford to.