Disney World Florida
Disney World Florida

Spending a magical day is Disney’s goal, their promise. We pass through the gates, and presto, we enter the most magical place on Earth.

I lived my entire life without the desire to go to a Disney park, and then one day, the idea came, a date was chosen, and tickets were purchased.

It was indeed a magical day. I had a great time. It was also an expensive and somewhat stressful day. Because Disney compels you to ask yourself questions constantly, both before you arrive and once you’re on-site:

  • Before arriving, choosing the tickets is already complex. Which park to go to? How many days? Because Disney World, as the name suggests, is a world of parks:
    • Magic Kingdom (the classic),
    • Animal Kingdom,
    • Epcot (which I had never heard of before, dedicated to world cultures),
    • and Hollywood Studio – which will open a Star Wars section at the end of August 2019.
  • I then discover the existence of a “FastPass”: you can choose the time for 3 attractions in advance, among the most popular. I didn’t do anything with this information immediately when I bought the tickets, even though I downloaded the Disney app on my phone. I waited until the day before to figure out what to do, and then, a world of blogs opened up with recommendations on what is best to do. I was a bit lost. I’ll tell you about my choice below.
  • Before leaving, you also have to choose a hotel. Disney hotels in the park look fabulous, but the price is very high, starting at nothing less than $600 per night. Around the park, there are other options. I search via Booking, read reviews, and finally make my choice for 2 nights not far from the park.
  • On-site, the day is a series of questions: What do we do next? Where do we go? Do we wait that long? We only had one day on-site, and our goal was to enjoy it as much as possible, without waiting too much, without dying of heat, and without having sore feet. We were quite lucky with the attractions. Being two, moving quickly, and being on the same wavelength undoubtedly helped.

What am I going to talk about in this article?

  • The narrative, simply, of the day at “Magic Kingdom,” the magical kingdom of Disney World in Florida, impressions, photos, etc.
  • What I would have liked to know before leaving – therefore, my practical advice. There are already many blogs; I consulted American blogs, but most of them are sponsored, and many are aimed at families. In short, this article is not sponsored; I paid for all activities and the hotel out of my own pocket. There are affiliate links (if you book through the blog, I earn a %). I also thank Lost in the USA for answering my questions on their recent Florida road trip article. Always at the top, JP and Delphine.
  • What I liked best in the attractions, parades, etc. ❤
  • The choice of the hotel; we spent a lot of time searching for and finding this hotel, I recommend it for certain reasons, which will be in the last part of the article.

Ready ? Let’s go !

The day begins just before 8 a.m. in front of the hotel, where we await a free shuttle that takes us to the park. There are fewer than ten people using the hotel shuttle, which gives no indication of the crowds we will encounter today. Everyone is dressed with a detail reminiscent of Mickey, whether it’s written on a T-shirt, by a “First time at Disney World!” badge, or by Minnie’s glittery ears – which we will see all day. We just look like tourists who are a bit too hot, without T-shirts featuring Disney characters.

The bus drops us off near the ticket booths, where I pick up our day tickets – those staying multiple consecutive days (there are many brave souls), get a wristband. We haven’t arrived yet; we need to take either a train or a boat to get to the Magic Kingdom. A boat is ready to depart, and we choose this option. Here we are, several hundred people, crossing a basin, with the castle awaiting us in the distance. The journey takes less than 10 minutes.

As we disembark, the crowd is dense, lines form to validate the tickets. Everyone rushes and beeps their card or wristband.

We are officially at the Magic Kingdom!

We move forward on Main Street, to the foot of the castle, where we await the rope drop, literally the falling rope, or the curtain rise, the opening of the park. A mini-firework display goes off at 9 a.m., signaling the start of the day, and Mickey and his friends arrive to welcome the first visitors, the guests. Everyone applauds, waves to the characters, and boom, it’s on; people rush en masse into the park, and so do we.

Our morning goal

To go on one of the most popular attractions, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Unfortunately, the app tells us that the attraction is down… we’ll come back later. We walk through the surprisingly deserted park, heading to the westernmost part, Frontierland, where other popular attractions are located, and there is no waiting at all. We walked quickly, and it seems we’ve left all the families and the undecided behind. Stroke of luck.

After experiencing two animated attractions in Frontierland – Splash Mountain (pictured above) and Big Thunder (a roller coaster in the mines), we head to Pirates of the Caribbean, where the wait is again very short, less than 10 minutes. I didn’t expect it to be a walk amid animated character scenes recreating the movie – which I’ve never seen, by the way. No roller coaster, no interactions per se, just a calm stroll amidst beautiful scenery. It’s my first time at Disney, and I had no idea that a majority of the attractions would be like this.

Splash Mountain - Disney World Florida
Splash Mountain – Disney World Florida

Around each attraction, there are shops, decorations, and sometimes characters in costumes. I buy pins like it’s 1994 and gifts for friends in Boston.

We go from one attraction to another, following both the app, which tells us where there is a short wait, and somewhat randomly wandering around.

Gradually, the park fills up, and there are more and more people. It’s hot; we are in the midst of a subtropical climate, with temperatures around 30°C in mid-April. Despite my precautions, I will realize later that evening that I have a nasty sunburn on one of my shoulders.

The parade at Disney World Florida

We had noticed on the schedule that a parade was taking place at 3 p.m., the Festival Fantasy Parade. We waited in the dense crowd, and the floats arrived, carrying the most recognizable characters from the Disney universe. My heart melted; I loved seeing these vignettes!

Parade - Disney World Florida
Parade – Disney World Florida

Food & Drinks @ Disney World Florida

Not too many surprises in this department; you can buy food just about everywhere, but it’s not of very high quality. Too bad! We come across themed restaurants, Gaston’s tavern, etc. Not really in the mood to spend time at a table, we opt for the quick option, not particularly delicious.

Manu, however, will appreciate his milkshake with marshmallows shaped like Mickey’s ears!

Water: a negative point. We were told that we could ask for water to fill our water bottles for free at all cafes… but each time, we are given a large cup. It’s not an eco-friendly situation at Disney.

The End of the Day

We go through activities throughout the day; the park doesn’t seem to empty out. We encounter many families, groups of friends, couples, children with tons of merchandise – Minnie ears, matching T-shirts for the whole family. It’s a bit like Halloween or a concert in the United States: participants fully embrace the theme!

The Disney shops are always very tempting… I would have liked to perfect my Floridian look and find a visor – Broad City style, but I wasn’t lucky in that regard.

Around 7 p.m., we’ve circled the park five times; I’m glad I wore sneakers because my feet are done for.

At 7:30 p.m., we still have two major attractions to do: the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Space Mountain. The first has a 1.5-hour wait, and the second is down. We decide to join the line for the first one.

I can’t stand being on my feet anymore; fortunately, it’s warm but not stifling. The fans blow full blast in the seemingly never-ending queue. Finally, it’s our turn to go, and there’s a little Disney miracle: we enter the roller coaster, and it stops just as the fireworks start! So beautiful!

Afterward, we go to Space Mountain, which is back in operation, with no wait. Here we are, riding this attraction in the dark; it’s a race through the stars!

What I Wish I Knew Before Going to Disney World Florida

  • It’s an expensive day: We opted for the cheapest option, which is a one-day entry to a single park, and each ticket cost $125; it’s the high season that dictates this pricing. The following week, during Easter week, the one-day entry was $139. The lowest price is $109. It’s cheaper for Florida residents.
  • Parking or shuttle? The hotel where we stayed offered a free shuttle to and from the park; we used it in the morning, but it was impossible to be on time for the last shuttle in the evening. We had to take a Taxi (Uber/Lyft do not operate in the park). The price was fixed, decided in advance—$25+tip, which is what parking for the car would have cost. Again, there are different parking tiers; the base rate is $25, but you can pay more to be closer to the entrance.
  • If you have the budget, I would recommend staying at a Disney hotel; the advantages are numerous, with longer park opening hours, and it looks super beautiful.
  • Beginner’s mistake: We missed the 10 p.m. parade to catch the ferry and have the last shuttle back to the hotel, but it was a mistake because there were so many people waiting for the boat that we waited a long time before reaching the parking lot. We would have been better off staying until the end.
  • April, a good time to go? January-March is supposed to be the best time for Florida, as it is not too hot and not too humid. We were close to Easter week, which is a super busy week; there can be more than 50,000 people per day at Disney, long waits, heat… better to be warned. In summer, there can be big storms that block attractions, in addition to getting wet.
  • How to use the fast pass well? The fast pass is a free service offered to all Disney ticket holders, allowing them to choose the time for 3 attractions. Everything is done through the app (there is wifi in the park if needed). We were fortunate to do some of the most popular attractions in the morning, without much waiting. My advice would be to choose the most popular attractions for the afternoon, not to waste the fast pass for the morning. If you want to do Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, all the attractions in Frontierland, Space Mountain, the haunted house: the fast pass is useful.
  • Some attractions are sometimes out of service for 30 minutes, 1 hour, or more… We really thought we wouldn’t be able to do Space Mountain, down from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., but everything was back to normal before we left the park.
people at Disney World Florida
people at Disney World Florida

Will I go back to Disney World Florida?

If the opportunity arises, why not. It’s not my favorite type of vacation, but I’m glad I went. I doubt I’ll ever become like some people we met at the hotel who spent the whole week at Disney World, with park entries every day, fast pass selections already made in advance, a mastery of the universe at their fingertips. Having not seen half of the Disney films, I don’t feel super concerned. And then, a day at Disney is fun, but it’s exhausting.

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By Marie-Ange

Hello, I'm Marie-Ange, a 37-year-old nurse who has a passion for travel. I love exploring new places, experiencing different cultures, and meeting new people. Join me on my adventures as I share my travel experiences and insights. Let's explore the world together!