Our First Trip to Disney World!

Note: this is really long, so I will post six times (one pre-arrival and one for each day!)

Even though this is late (more than three months after the fact), I thought some of you might enjoy my recap of my trip to Disney World. We were in the Kingdom November 4th-8th.

The trip was four nights, five days with four adults. After reading lots of reviews and checking the prices, we decided to stay at Port Orleans-Riverside. We really enjoy it; the rooms were clean, ok size for us. We particularly liked the themed pool (with the adult-sized slide! That we ride several times) and the pool-side bar. The food court was blah, but I was not expecting amazing food either.
Before departing: I was the master planner, so I had picked park days in function of crowds, then pick meals in each park based on availabilities.

We purchased a 5-day, 1-day par park ticket. Because we had never been to DW before, we thought that one park a day would be sufficient and when we would be done, we could go back to the swimming pool and enjoy our resort. I think that that was a great choice; we opened the parks almost everyday and enjoyed each one at a time, but we never felt like we were bored or wanted to go to another park. We were looking into finding a few ways for saving money and that was one of them.

Day -1: Departures and shopping

My sister flew in early on Friday. They were staying at the Wyndham for a few days before meeting us at the Port Orleans Riverside resort. My sister ended up staying there because she joined our trip a little late. POR was full for that weekend, so she booked that hotel. She liked staying offside but she said that she would much rather stay on resort next time, because the shuttles were way more convenient and the atmosphere nicer. Because she arrived before her reservation, she had to go to Disney Springs to activate her ticket. It took TWO trips to get them activated, but she was able to. I then booked all the FASTPASSES they were missing. She also went to TJ ($10 Lyft ride) and grabbed snacks, sandwich material, yogurt, breakfast. That was one of my favorite things we did. Personally, I think breakfast always sucks at Disney (or is VERY expensive). Having those things saved us money, but even more importantly a lot of time. Every night, we would prepare sandwiches and snacks for the next day and pack them. In the morning, we would grab them and eat them while waiting for the park to open.
We were on the red eye from LA to MCO. We landed around 5:30am. I was a little worried about having to wait very long to get to the resort, but I was wrong. We knew we would not have our room just yet, so left our suitcases to be picked up by Disney and walked straight to the Magical Express. I loved the whole experience! We waited 10 minutes while sitting on the bus and one more person got on. We then took off! We were in our resort in 30minutes. When we got there, we gave our suitcases to bell services, changed, grab a quick breakfast in the food court and then headed our way for our first park!


Day 1: Hollywood Studios
Because we knew it was the smallest park, we decided to start with that one, so we could grab a nap in the afternoon. Armed with my Plan from Touring plans, we were ready to go! We definitely made Rope drop (with time to spare) and walk onto Toy Story Midway Mania. After that, we followed the plan without any problem. We had fastpasses for Tower of Terror, TSSM and The Muppets. My sister’s tickets were for later in the day and decided to arrive later. That would be my number one tip for this trip: it is okay to split the parties, especially if two families or sets of grown-ups. It made everyone happier.

Suddenly, I got an email: TSSM was down during our FP window. Perfect! We decided to ride it later with my sisters (who had FP at around 3pm).
We met them as they were waiting in line to get pictures with Goofy. Tip: I debated for a long time whether or not we should get the Picture package, especially that we did not have children. I got it and shared it with another family. We loved it. We got hundreds of really good pictures. I would probably purchase it again. At that point we realised that the bucket of popcorn were refillable for $1 for the length of the stay. Score. We bought one.

After riding a few other things, we went out for our biggest meal of the trip: Hollywood Brown Derby. We had a dining package with FP to Fantasmic. The food was amazing. Everyone loved it. It was expensive, but everyone, even my sister BF who does not spend a lot on dinner often, thought it was great.

After that, we were off for some more pictures and the TSMM FP. My sister stayed in the park while we headed to our room.
When we got to our room, our suitcases were already there. We called Bell services so they would bring our carry-on and took a nap. After, we headed back to Hollywood Studios where we went to Fantasmic.

The show was good, but I would be okay not watching it again. As we were walking out, we watched the end of the Galactic Fireworks. That is when the one of two navette issues happened.
Because my sister was staying at the Wyndham in Disney Springs, we decided to hop on the Disney Springs shuttle to get to her room and grab our share of the groceries. After 45minutes wait, not ONE Disney Spring shuttle has showed up. And at that point, there were 100s of us waiting. We suddenly saw the shuttle that serviced my sister’s hotel. We jaywalked across the shuttle area and jumped on that bus. We made it, grabbed the food at my sister’s hotel room, grabbed glass of wine and then lyfted home.


Day 2: Epcot!

We arrived at Epcot before Rope Drop. It was also the day of the Food and Wine Half Marathon, so the day was a little crazy. We were very up the line. My sister joined us a little later in the line. Once it opened, we started with pictures with Baymax, Joy and Sadness, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse. That was the best suggestion that Touring Plans gave us. When we got out, the wait was more than one hour for each of those character greetings. It took us 40 minutes to get through. We headed to Frozen Ever After and then by BF and I headed to Test Track (with our FP+) while my sister went to Mission Space (with their FP). Test Track is my favorite ride of Disney World, hands down. At that moment, I had to find a way to do it again. After that, we were supposed to do Mission Space Orange, but as I am super claustrophobic and motion sick in 3D rides, so my sister advised me to skip it. I skipped it. We then did a Living with the land and other rides, including Spaceship: Earth, for which I had grabbed FP+. At that point, all of our FP+ were used (my sister had 7pm Test Track ones) so I tried to find some for my BF and I. Score: 6:45pm TT FP+. We then headed for the world. It was the Food and Wine Festival, so we slowly walked around the park while eating all kinds of different food and drinking different beverages. We did not visit the pavilions that deeply, so on my next trip I would definitely like to stay longer. At some around the USA, we were exhausted. That was my biggest problem with Epcot: once you are that far, there is no easy way to get out of the park to go take a nap. You would still have to walk the entire park to exit, then walk the park again to go back where you stopped.

After going around the world, we stopped for a break for beer and then it was TT time. Still amazing. We were thinking of staying for the fireworks but we were already exhausted, so we took off and went back to our rooms.


Day 3: Animal Kingdom and Craziness
Day 3 is when I lost it, which is what I was expecting. We already done two RD and this was our third one, with EMH. My sister was also switching hotels that morning. That was a bad planification on my side; she was good to deal with it.
So, she got to POR at around 6:30am and we stored the suitcases away and went straight for the shuttles. I had the breakfast and the snacks (and coffee!) ready to eat. That morning, the AK bus was nowhere to be seen. And as we are waiting in line, a group of women jumped in front us for the AK bus. When the bus finally came and started to fill up, the bus driver stopped boarding at me. I lost it. Totally. We had been up since 5am and I was gonna miss the opening because of those people ?%$?? Anyway, the bus driver let us in and got on.
I had gotten FP+ for Flight of Pandora! Yay! So my goal was to start with Navi River, then Expedition Everest, Dinosaur and others during EMH, then go back to Pandora for FOA. Well, Navi River was broken, so we went to EE (which we rode twice!), Dinosaur and went back to ride Navi River. Navi River is Pandora’s version of It’s a Small World. We waited about 45 minutes at that time and it jumped to 2 two hours as we were exiting. That was before the park was officially opened.
It was then time for Flight of Pandora and that was the 3rd issue of the day: my BF and my sister’s BF did not fit in the tester. We gave up those FP+. My sister kind of fitted in the tester, so the cast member told us to try it anyway.

We got on and rod it. I liked it, but I would never wait hours to do it. I was VERY motion sick when I got off and my sister was barely better. We then kept on following the plan and went to grab a snack and do the next activity, Caring for Elephants. Caring for Elephants was the only extra thing we paid for in the entire trip. I am an elephant lover, so it was great to see the animals closer. There was a bus driver who answered our questions, a CM who was answering our questions, the person who works for the Elephant Project in Africa and an elephant caretaker who happened to be there. It as $30 a person (adults only) and I loved it. Would recommend, especially that the entire $30 goes to Disney Nature Fund.

We got back and jumped on Kilimanjaro Safari, which I loved. We then walked the African Trail, watch Flight of Wonder and then the 4th issue of the day: Lunch reservation.

I had booked lunch for 4 at Tusker House for somewhere around 2pm. When I checked in, they told me they were running about 25minutes late, so I said ok. At 2:25pm, starving, I was told it would be another 30minutes. I lost it. They ended up seating us about 10 minutes later. We had food (which I really, really like) and got pictures with the gang. We also got tickets for the River Illuminations.
After that, we rode Kali Rivers with our last FP+. At that point, I wanted to ride the Kilimandjaro Safaris again, so I was able to snag two FP+ for later that night. We then watch the Lion King and went to sit down for the River Illumination. It was cute, but here again, once is good for me. After that, we split up. We rode Kilimanjaro Safari again. It was pretty cool to ride it at night; we actually saw animals we had not seen the first time during the day. After that, we went to take pictures in Pandora. Pandora at night is wonderful; totally worth stopping by to grab pictures.
We looked at the Tree of Life and then headed back. It was bed time.


Day 4: Magic Kingdom
I started to plan this trip less than 6 months before the trip started, so a lot of the restaurants were already booked. As a Beauty and the Beast fan, I really, really wanted to eat at Be Our Guest. By checking quite frequently, I was able to snag a pre-opening breakfast reservation for my BF and I. At that point, my sister could not make RD anymore, so they were going to join us at our first FP+ of the day. We got there early, went to breakfast. The food was okay, but it was really the room and the atmosphere that I loved.
Getting up for RD is literally the best thing to do while at DW. After breakfast, we were able to ride about six rides before our first FP+ at 10:30am, which was Enchanted Tales with Belle. My sister met us and we got on. Once again, for what would be a theme at MK, my BF was picked for public participation. After that, we followed the TP. When we got to the Seven Dwarves Mine with our FP+, we encountered a small problem: my sister’s BF did not fit. We rode it without him and when we were getting out, I was able to negotiate us an extra FP+, which we used on Pirates of the Caribbean. We followed the rest of the plan until lunch time, which was at Skipper’s Canteen. I really enjoyed the food; we got a full fish with the vegetable curry, which was perfect. I really enjoyed how every restaurant in Disney World had a good mix of normal food and different food for the most adventurous. My boyfriend and I are foodies and we always found great stuff to try.
Now, exhausted, we went back to our room for a swim and a nap and then it was back to the MK. We grabbed some food at Columbia House, then watched the fireworks. We rode Big Thunder Mountain, again.
Then, one of my favorite part of the trip: while on the Little Mermaid, my sister’s boyfriend proposed and she said yes! We celebrated a bit and hopped on the Haunted House. Where I proceeded to lose my Magical Band. Bou. If that ever happen to you, just go to your hotel lobby and they will give you another, in the color you ordered it. We headed to bed.

Day 5: Last day in the MK

That morning was our last morning, so we did not make RD. We packed and brought our suitcases to bell services. We headed to the parks with my sister and took pictures, ate ice cream, did all the rides we had not done yet. Following the Touring plans again, we actually did everything faster than the plan, even though the expected crowds were a 4 and we had crowd 7! At that point, everyone was very impressed with the plans. The only things planned that we did not do was because we were too tired or not interested anymore, not actually because we did not have time to do it.
We went back to our hotel for goodbyes. My BF was flying back to LA (and going back to the airport with the Magical Express).

I was staying a little bit longer in Florida, so I hung out with my sister at the swimming pool. We went back to the park to watch the fireworks from another point of view. The first night, we saw the fireworks very well, but not the projections. The second night, we did the opposite: we saw the projections very well, but not the fireworks. This was a good solution to arriving hours before to get a good place to sit down. I am not the kind of person who would show up hours before the fireworks to get a good viewing spot. Finally, during the last few days, I had gotten a late dinner reservation for three at Be Our Guest. Dinner was good and I really enjoyed the Grey Stuff.
And that was it! I headed back to POR, where I grabbed my suitcase and took my Lyft back to the next hotel for my convention.


In conclusion: I really enjoyed my trip. All the planning I did was really, really helpful. The touring plans were really well done. As someone who goes to Disneyland regularly, I could not stop myself from comparing the two. I loved them both, but Disney World is a special occasion park, while Disneyland is MY park.

Tips and tricks (in no special order)

• Get to rode drop. You will accomplish three times more rides in way less time.
• Take breaks: Epcot and Animal Kingdom were done without a break and the afternoon was hard. If you do RD, nap, and then back to the park, you will accomplish as many things and be less tired. I will know for next time.

• Get some food to eat on the go. Making breakfast ahead and eating it on the shuttle or while waiting for RD was a huge time AND money saver. If you don’t want to pre-order, lyft to any grocery store.
• I really liked Disney PhotoPass. It was well worth the money.
• If your group wants to split (or can split), do it. There is no point trying to keep everyone together. If you want to do RD and they don’t, just split. The easiest way to find each other was to meet for a specific time for a FP+. It was easy to find the line and everybody wants to do their FP+, so people tend to be on time.

• We did not pick park hopper and I am okay with that. One park a day (and 2 at MK) was pretty good. I might have liked another day at Epcot, but I think it rounded up nicely. It was a good way to save money.

• For meals: from my Disneyland experience, I know that one sit-down restaurant a day really helps. Sit down restaurants are usually climatized, all you can drink water, you are not rushed (as much) and you can enjoy your time. So, I booked a late lunch most of the time, which everyone thought it was great. We would eat our homemade breakfast while waiting, ride early, grab a snack around 11am, do a FP+ or more rides, and when it was very busy, it was lunch time. Also, because we had a late lunch, we were never starving for dinner, so we grabbed some popcorn or some quick service food and we were good to go. It was also a good way to meet after splitting up.

• It is ok to give up and go back to your hotel. After all, you might be paying a lot for your resort (Disney or not), so might as well enjoy it.
• If something does not work, tell a cast member.
• Bring less stuff than you think in the parks. It will make security faster and your day better.
• But bring MORE water than you think you will need. I had one of those fancy HydroFlask for both my coffee and my water. I would fill up the big one with ice in the morning and refill with water as the day went on, which meant I always had cool water. Don’t hesitate to refill your water at all the restaurants.
• Get a popcorn bucket. You can refill it for $1. In some parks, there were special flavors (Maple around Big Thunder Mountain and Epcot had parmesan and some other in front of the fountains. Still $1). I also happened to be celebrating my birthday while in Disney World and Mickey paid for most of my refills. Thanks, Cast Members!
• Do not freak out about dinner reservations and FP+, especially if you are a small group: I was ALWAYS able to get FP+ and the food reservation I wanted the day (or the week before). We were four adults during a low-ish season (Food and Wine Marathon weekend and the days after) but that would have helped me decrease the stress.
• Have fun! I was way too stressed for something that ended up being so much fun.

Feel free to ask questions!


Thank you! I really love your tips and tricks!