MAGIC KINGDOM - The magic Castle
HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS - The sorcers hat
ANIMAL KINGDOM - The Tree of Life
EPCOT - The Space ball
TRANSPORT to Disney
From Reunion the best way and quite quick just 5-6 miles away (Animal kingdom is a back road and takes 12 minutes) is via car. The daily car park fee (in 2014) is $17.00. This is valid for all parks and you keep the ticket as you can leave and return with the same ticket. You pay at the entrance to the parks in cash. The park wardens show you to your parking line and space and direct you to pull forward and stop and then ask you to keep to the front of the vehicle especially if you are in the front row as the next line of cars till pull behind you. You check your row number and location, each location has a character and even a category, so you would see heroes and villains, and for “SCAR” row 34 you follow Villains.
DISNEY FASTPASS -- NEW
So what is all the fuss about the new Fastpass.. what was the old Fastpass?
The old fastpass was free of charge included in your plastic card pass. You would need to go to the ride you wanted, see what time the next time for a fastpass was, put all your tickets in the machine and get paper tickets out with a window to go on the rider, later or sooner depending on the ride. One ride Midway Mania was impossible to get a one as a fast pass as they would be gone for the day. They worked well but people did not bother.
The NEW Fastpass is still free of charge included in tickets…bookable up to 30 days in advance ONLINE at mydisneyexperience.com. You choose your day and your park, you can even let the system recommend rides based on your profiles. You are only allowed to book 3 fast passes in advance, and only when they have been used can you book others directly in the park on the day with Disney personnel and not on the APP. You must use your passes otherwise you are blocked from booking another ride. If it rains or the ride is closed, you may go in to any other fast pass available ride at the same time or you can go and see Disney personnel and rebook another time. They will not let you miss out on your fast passes. This is where the Disney app is helpful to show you if that ride is unavailable. The Disney app is brilliant with up to date waiting times and to see what restaurants are available (This is pretty crucial in busy season).
The new non bookable fast passes even 30 days in advance are the NEW (2014) 7 dwarfs mine train and visiting ANNA and ELSA from Frozen. My boys would have even loved that but we just had to see them in the parade, at Magic Kingdom and the FROZEN Summer event at Hollywood studios on stage. Some stage shows such as Lion King, Nemo, Disney Junior are not over full and if you go beforehand in time you don’t need a fast pass and use it for something else in advance. See the park details for my fastpass recommendations. Also you must choose 3 fast passes which sounds easy but struggled in the Animal kingdom.
Disney account and website
TICKETS and how to start
Create your Disney account on www.mydisneyexperience.com. Set up your group’s profiles etc, this makes each step so much easier, fast passes and restaurant reservations, even outside the park. Tickets are not required for children under 3 years old, but please make them a profile so they are included in your restaurant reservation etc. They go on rides via your fastpass if you have a fastpass ride. They did not ask for ID for the 3 year old or in my case the 2 year old and 362 days old!!
Tickets are easiest online electronically and you pick them up easy at the first park you hit just print out confirmation and have credit card it is easy. It is Disney they think of everything!! So which tickets do you buy.
I recommend for visitors with young children to buy non hopper tickets, they are cheaper and there is enough to do in one park without “hopping” around. If you are managing 3-5 days the one park a day is enough. You may want to include a waterpark but that would probably be a separate day as well. It is recommendable to allow a day in between Disney if possible if you are doing full days.
Disney tickets bought in the US are from 1 day to 10 days and are only valid for 14 days from the first validation in the park. Children under 3 are free, Children 3-11 have a lower price and then it is just adults, no grandparents prices like at LEGOLAND! Over 11 you are an adult! After 4 day tickets, the extra day tickets are only around $10 more a day. Sometimes the Tourist info website as below gives 5 days for 4 days unlike Disney. 10 day ticket is the maximum you can get in the US.
Magic Kingdom, Hollywood studios and Animal Kingdom are perfect for the 3 day tickets, EPCOT is an afterthought I think, but nice if you are not restricted on days.
If you want other tickets such as SeaWorld, LEGOLAND, there are some price reductions on the actual tourist information office and you can buy Disney tickets there and then link them afterwards to the Disney website to allow a fast pass etc.
You can buy all tickets in advance at once, they are validated at the park you go to on that day so don’t expire, but you must collect them personally with credit card and ID. The office is on International drive and easy to park once you find it.
Now Disney have the magic bands, these were originally for the Disney hotel guests as they get access to the parks, hotel areas, their dining plans and can charge everything like a credit card in the parks. You can also buy one for $12.99 + tax and then link it to your own account. This only advantageous for non-Disney hotel guests if you are doing many days or each year at Disney and you fast pass the rides to save taking out the plastic cards each time. Also for the Magic memory card as you use this with the photo pass people and the rides with photos will automatically take your picture and load it on to your account if you have prepaid the memory card.
There are things called Disney photos passes at Disney, their own photographers stand around and you ask them to take pics and they zap it on a card (Magic band) and you link that to your Disney experience webpage and you can see them, they expire after 30 days and they want you to buy them and they are expensive. If you are only there a few days and you don’t manage a lot of photo opportunities it is not worth buying the memory maker CD at $149.00 in advance or $199 after. It is still worth getting the pics as you can see them online and order other products and it is a good way to get all the group on one photo. On the last day of the Disney experience you can go in to the photo centre at the beginning of the last park you are in and you can get 4 photos for $19.99 or about that, you without buying the whole thing, so you can get really nice photos of the group, which you choose on the screen. If you decide later there are special offers to get them sent to you. The photographers will still take with your own photos and you can take your own photos with the characters but the photo pass costs nothing until you choose or don’t choose photos.
GENERAL TIPS FOR THE PARKS ---- Before you go
JULY and August is very hot in Orlando you can take frozen water bottles in to the parks in a small cooler bag and if you have a stroller even better to have it in the stroller!!
They search bags but not to stop you taking things in so you can take in snacks and drink to keep you going and have lunch/dinner etc in the restaurants. Everything is so safe in Disney, I mean you don’t leave your cameras etc but they have stroller parks in front of the all attractions.
WHAT TO TAKE in your stroller/rucksack
Recommendations based on 3 and 5 year old boys!!
This park is the best park with the castle (that you cannot go in to! But just walk through). The problem well not really problem, is, once you park you still need to go through the ticket entrance (this is where you can collect your tickets if this is the first park). They are still not validated until you go to the park you want. From here you can take the monorail to Magic Kingdom OR Epcot or you can take the “steamboat” over to Magic Kingdom. Both are very efficient. The boat is nice going and then the monorail is easier to get back especially if later in the day.
Once you arrive at the station or dock you go through security (again you have not shown your tickets) and they will just check for dangerous things!! Then you will see the turnstiles to show your card/ticket or magic band. You push the card up to the electronic Mickey and then put a finger in as identification and you must use this one every time after that for the tickets.
Then you are in through the tunnel, normally Goofy is right in front in the circle with queues but “Meet tinkerbell” is on your right straight away when you enter. Mickey in his Tuxedo is also there but normally longer queues. There is a queue for each and the time is stated outside how long it is next to the Tonys restaurant. Tinkerbelle was fun as they pretend you are being shrunk to her size to meet her!!
You can fast pass 3 things so fast pass Buzz Lightyear Spin, Peter pans Flight and there is a mini roller coaster the goofy barnstormer it is only 45 seconds ride but bendy and fast but the queue can be long for a short ride. Dumbo is a must and the queues are really long for about a 35 second ride up around on Dumbo. The classic ride on all the adverts..
RIDES To TRY
FANTASY LAND in Magic Kingdom
Arielle under the sea ..you are in a shell and go through the little mermaids story
For girls there is also storytime with Belle
This is where the 7 dwarfs minetrain ride is that was a 90 min wait in August as it is new. (Height restriction and looks fast for me!)
From 9.45 am …There is a show at the Magic Kingdom every hour or so at the castle with Mickey and all his friends and some villains and you can just go to that area when it is about to start there is no need go in advance. Then off to the right for tomorrow world and Monsters laugh floor, the tomorrow world escalator just to see the park, Buzz light-year spin
3pm – The Magic kingdom the parade through the park so you see all the characters. If you are at the front of the park go upstairs as if you were going for the train there is a balcony to look out. Then take the train to fantasyland or next station so you avoid walking back through the crowds when the parade is finished.
9pm / 11pm Light parade through the streets –people start queuing early but it goes through the whole of the park and you will see where they corner off to know where to wait (about 8.45)
Once finished then you walk round to the castle for the light show on the actual castle …
9.45pm - followed by main fireworks at 10.00pm. Once the fireworks are done in July and August it can take an hour to get out of the park. So just be prepared depending on if you are near the castle for the fireworks.
(for non park days. You can see the Disney fireworks from the eleven restaurant at the Reunion hotel and you will hear them in the house a little of course. )
Get to here for 10.30...the main thing ...frozen Anna and Elsa parade for 11.00 then quick sing along at the hat...and they are on the stage..Disney junior show off to the right for 11.40/50
If you have a Star wars fan register for Luke Skywalker training for kids!! as soon as you go to Hollywood studios. This is a registered event so need to get in early and they will give you a time to go over to have a light saber training and fight the storm troopers and Darth!!
> Fantasmic show with fireworks is great but 9pm and you have to go an hour at least before or book a dinner with Fantasmic entry and you can go to allocated saved seating. See the website they have a few restaurants.. the one we have done all the time is the BROWN DARBY .. a more expensive sit in restaurant
NOTE: EXTRA to TAKE: spare dry clothes if you are going on the rapids
In Animal kingdom you have to have all food and drinks in bags when seeing animals.
No parade and no fireworks park shuts entrance at 8pm. Animal kingdom is the hottest park...
SHOWS…always nice for a rest and are good and have lots of room
The Lion king show and Finding Nemo (near the Dinosaur ride) .These you can fast pass but only if you have enough fastpasses, the rooms are large and inside with AC.
Other things to do
ANIMAL VIEWINGS (just a walk round)
Most things close if it rains in Animal kingdom! Including rides and fast passes will be transferred
For me this is just a nice walk around and have a good choice of restaurants. Ride wise I did not think there was much, we did the
The main thing is Nemo ride “ The seas with Nemo and Friends”, Talk with crush after you come out of the Nemo ride and then the whole sea area with sea animals to look at and Nemos shark friends to pose with! There is a the characters spot where you get the main characters one after the other goofy, Mickey and Minnie, we fast passed this as the rides to fastpass are limited.
SPACESHIP EARTH as a a fast pass
This takes you on a simulator over California on seats that move off the floor and line up in front of the screen, I am scared of heights but it was not too bad! Would not dash back to it! But my 5 year old loved it!
Epcot has the fireworks round the lake at night...9pm and the park closes after that unless special events
DISNEY RESTAURANTS Recommendations
You can reserve all Disney restaurants that have table service on the www.mydisneyexperience.com
MAGIC KINGDOM places to eat which was not expensive and really
THE PLAZA RESTAURANT, with table service but not much more than the self-service burgers…
Nice and a brilliant Sundae for the kids menu… we reserved as in July or August or evenings are busy, out of season may be ok. It is small, you leave strollers outside, the toilet you use is outside. It is on the corner of Main Street before you cross over the bridge like road to the magic kingdom, next to the ever busy ice cream parlour, but the ice cream in there is Mickey ears as well! And you sit down.. Very important in the AC
TONYS TOWN SQUARE
If you go for around the light show (9pm) dinner then reserve, we did Tony’s for Dinner as you can see the lightshow outside. The reviews for Tony’s didn’t look good but we liked it and had pasta and starters and pizza for Robert…
YAK and YAK restaurant – Asian Fusion food and good cocktails
Each year we just go back to the BROWN DERBY – The more expensive restaurant but nice general menu.
They also have a small cafe and outside area to eat tapas or in the cafe cakes and coffee
Each country has something to offer and we have found all of them pretty good
We have managed ITALY, GERMANY, FRANCE and ENGLAND
So the German Beerhall – Buffet and very very German Beerhall music which even after 13 years of living there I cannot get used to!! But love the typical German food.
ITALY is nice, good food
England, yes this year we finally did the English pub which was ok but not great but very nice service, well all of Disney is normally nice service!
France – The main French restaurant is nice a bit expensive but good food and the Rat from Ratatouille comes on a trolley as a puppet to talk to the kids at the table.