First off I must say that this was one of the best vacations Roger & I have ever been on! I’m not sure if it’s simply because Disney World is magical or because our marriage gets better with every passing day, either way we made memories that will last a lifetime! As most of you know this was Roger’s birthday present to me & while some of you might be wondering how a blogger & dental student can afford such a trip. The truth is studying hard in school can literally pay off, plus it helps to plan carefully & do all of your research!
After a great deal of research Roger was able to find amazing 5-day Disney World tickets on Ebay. I know some people might find it a bit strange to buy such important & expensive tickets from Ebay, but he did his research, the seller was reliable, & we had the time of our life (note: since Roger bought our tickets, the prices have gone up, but they are still better than buying them from the park). Plus, if you time everything right you can get money back from the credit card purchase, plus Ebay bucks, & other special discounts.
ps. You can learn more about buying WDW tickets on Ebay in my post 10 Things to Do 3 Months Before Your Disney Vacation).
Another great way to plan on saving money ahead of time is to not stay in the park. Yes, of course staying in one of Disney’s resorts is extra magical, but it isn’t necessary, especially since you are going to be spending most of your time in the park & the time you are at your hotel you will be sleeping. We stayed with Roger’s wonderful grandparents in Altamonte Springs, FL (which is where I gained my new kale smoothie fetish), but if you start researching early you can always find great deals on sites like Priceline, Expedia, or Kayak. Plus Groupon always has amazing deals in the Orlando area!
So in this post about our 5 Day Disney World Vacation, I am going to be sharing with you some of the wonderful memories that we made along with lots of tips & advice that we gained each day, along with some extra advice at the very end concerning children, food budgets, FastPass+, & such. (And if you want 10 more tips you can find them in this post here)
Oh & I should also note that I didn’t bring my canon camera that I use for blogging into the park since I really had no idea how adventurous I was going to be (aka roller coasters or water rides) so we just took most of the pictures on our iPhones & videos on an old digital canon camera I have had for many years. Therefore the editing of pictures was limited.
Day 1: Epcot
Epcot is my favorite beyond favorite park, I love the rides, I love the food, I love the countries, I just love the atmosphere! Plus Epcot has all the Disney princess! (But more about that later).
I really liked Spaceship Earth & Test Track on day 1 & while Roger wasn’t as keen on the cosmetic updates of Test Track he still enjoyed the ride, but his favorite ride there is still Test Track.
Spaceship Earth, Test Track, & Misson: Space – which Roger rode twice since I am not a fan of this ride.
Food, Snack, & Sweet Treats:
For breakfast we went to Cracker Barrel with Roger’s grandparents before heading to Epcot.
Lunch was more like a big snack to hold us over until dinner. Since we were in the World Showcase we decided to go to Tangierine Café & try their Mediterranean Falefel Wrap with a side of hummus & pita (not on menu – but basically the Vegetarian Platter if I remember correctly). I must say that I was a bit disappointed by it, I had remembered it being good years ago, but I ended up being a bit disappointed.
For dinner we went to Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria & split an individual sized pizza – which was plenty for the two of us – along with water & lemons. I mention this because the lemons were delicious. I know that might sound funny, but I loved the lemons! Oh & we didn’t realize it until we came back on Friday (yes, we loved it so much we ate here twice!) the menu says they have bread & olive oil & when we asked they said it was no extra charge!
A little bit before the fireworks we stopped by L’Arisan des Glaces for some delicious ice cream in a waffle cone.
*Note: We went twice to Epcot so I chose some different favorites for day 5.
Don’t mind the selfie. The ride stopped so I started snapping away. There ended up being a medical emergency so we all debarked the little boat ride & got a mini unscheduled behind the scenes look of Living with the Land.
If you haven’t noticed already, Epcot is beautiful in the spring! I had so much fun just snapping away with my old digital camera while Roger road Mission: Space.
After we got ice cream that evening we were on our way to see the fireworks (we wanted to be near the exit so we could get away “quickly” afterwards) we noticed there was a short line to see princess Aurora, so I went & got my picture taken with her. At first I felt silly standing in line to see a disney princess by myself, but as you will read in day 5 I found out everyone does it!
Day 2: Hollywood Studios
This was my first time at Hollywood Studios & I LOVED IT!
My favorite rides were Star Tours & The Great Movie Ride. My favorite show was Beauty & the Beast Live on Stage.
Roger’s favorite rides were Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster & Star Tours.
We went on Star Tours Together, but since I am not as much of a thrill seeker as Roger he used both his & my FastPass+ tickets for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster & The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which gave me time to go see The Beauty & The Beast Live Show.
Food, Snack, & Sweet Treats:
We ate breakfast at Roger’s grandparents home (where his grandmother introduced me to her kale smoothies).
For lunch we stopped by Rosie’s All-American Café & split their Vegetarian Black Bean Burger with 2 cups of water (cups of water are free). We tried a few veggie burgers in Disney & this was definitely our favorite. If you are going to Hollywood Studios I highly recommend you try this burger!
Since this park closes earlier than some of the others we decided to eat outside of the park for dinner (see below).
While Roger went on Tower of Terror I decided to see Beauty & the Beast Live on Stage which was basically right next door. I waited a few minutes in standby for the show & then because there was only one of me I was able to walk right up to the front & sit on the side where the bench had extra seating left (although I could have fitted my husband & an imaginary kid too).
Oh & this was definitely my favorite princess show!
Had to snap a picture of Roger at this pretend dental office!
Doesn’t this look fun? Your kids (between the ages of 4 & 12) can train to be a Jedi! To find out all of the details & learn how your kids can get in on the fun check out this link: Jedi Training Academy. But even if they can’t join in on the training they can always build their own Lightsaber in the store connected to Star Tours!
Our second FastPass+ of the day was for Star Tours, which instantly became a new favorite! So of course I wanted to go on it again later in the day, but I didn’t want to wait in line. However, we just so happened to be passing Star Tours later that day & noticed the ride was temporarily down, so we decided to hang around outside. We decided we would wait 10 minutes & if it hadn’t opened we would leave. Within just a few minutes the ride had reopened & we were in the first group to ride Star Tours!
They definitely have a lot of shows in Hollywood Studios & one of the shows we went together to was the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! My husband, who wasn’t with me at the Beauty & the Best show, didn’t think we would get a seat since we were on standby, but not only did we get a seat we got one close to the front!
Did you know they have street performers? I stumbled upon 3 of them while Roger was on rides that weren’t my speed. All three were interactive & one that just blew me away! The man in the picture above was trying to get the woman with the umbrella to go on a date with him. He then had the audience join in by having us choose where they were going, what they were doing, & a slew of other details. If you gave an answer you would get a pretend $100 bill.
I kept wandering around & when I circled back with my husband they were still going (it had to have been at least half an hour) & he went back through the whole date, giving every single detail the audience had suggested! I have seen improve before, but never to this extent, & never this well done!
That evening we went to Taverna Opa for a yummy Greek dinner. Since there were so many delicious sounding vegetarian appetizers we decided to order a feasts worth to share. So we enjoyed the above pictured hummus, crisp zucchini, falafel, spanakopita, & lemon potatoes. Seriously so good! We had been here before (years ago) & if you go later in the evening there is belly dancing & paper napkins thrown everywhere (instead of broken plates) – so fun!
Day 3: Magic Kingdom
For some reason I have very few pictures in Magic Kingdom (I believe it might be because we were having so much fun and just forgot to take many pictures). I have quite a few videos, but I have no idea where all the pictures went! Oh well! We have lots of memories!
My favorite ride was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I loved it so much we rode on it 5 times! Yes 5 whole times! Three times earlier in the day, and after the firework show we rode it 2 more times along with Splash mountain.
Splash Mountain, Thunder Railroad, and Space Mountain (Roger did the last one twice, since I have a childish fear of this experience).
Food, Snack, & Sweet Treats:
Breakfast was a quick stop at Panera Bread for breakfast sandwiches & coffee for me.
Since we were having an early dinner we just picked up snacks here & there when we got hungry.
For dinner we had made reservations at The Plaza Restaurant. We both got and shared the veggie burger & vegetarian sandwich & along with a milkshake.
For the fireworks we had some fun munchies of popcorn & nuts.
Yes, I even got Roger to ride Dumbo with me!
We found a new favorite place to watch the fireworks. We stood between Prince Charming Regal Carrousel & the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (if you know Magic Kingdom well you can see exactly where we were standing by the picture above) & the fireworks were right above us! It was truly magical!
My parents & sister were also on spring break in Florida at the same time as us so we headed over to where they were staying on the gulf coast on Wednesday & spent the afternoon with them relaxing on the beach.
It was so nice to relax our feet for a little bit (my left foot really needed it), spend time with my family, & enjoy the Gulf blue ocean!
Day 4: Animal Kingdom
Expedition Everest was my absolute favorite ride in Animal Kingdom, and possibly my favorite at Disney World in general! We even rode it 5 times! Can you believe it? I was so proud of myself! For someone who hates, or at least greatly dislikes, roller coasters I completely surprised myself! When we were standing in line the first time I was contemplating if I would actually get on, or just walk right through, but then I randomly saw one of our pastors & his family – including his twin little girls – in front of us & I figured if they were brave enough to ride than I should be too. I am so glad I did because it became one of my favorite rides!
Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, & Dinosaur.
Food, Snack, & Sweet Treats:
For breakfast we ate with Roger’s Grandparents.
Lunch was more of a collage of different things throughout the park, such as mimosas, curry, and ice cream.
In addition, we finally got the iconic Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bar! Classic!
For dinner we headed back to Roger’s grandparents house to have grilled cheese, soup, & kale smoothies – a great combination right?!
*From what I noticed everything is paper & recyclable at Animal Kingdom, so while you can get some awesome paper straws I didn’t notice any type of lids. So as others before me have advised, if you have kids that need lids you might want to bring your own kid friendly cups.
How cute is he?
You can’t go to Animal Kingdom without going on the Kilimanjaro Safaris, which was awesome! The giraffes were my favorite!
I am pretty proud of myself… I can’t believe I rode Expedition Everest 5 whole times!
Although Expedition Everest was my favorite ride, my favorite part of the day was meeting Pocahontas! Don’t we look like besties?
Day 5: Epcot
Soarin’, Test Track, and the best thrill ride of all…Princesses!!!
Soarin’ and Spaceship Earth (we had to leave early to get back to Birmingham, so we only used two fast passes this day).
Food, Snack, & Sweet Treats:
We swung by Panera Bread again for a quick bite before heading to the park.
The pizza was so good we had to have it again (the same place as day one, however this time we tried a size larger & weren’t able to finish it all – so good), & gelato.
*For more about this park check Day 1 above.
Disney Princesses: Get there a few minutes early & you won’t have to wait as long. Also go earlier in the day, although Disney princesses are amazing at staying in character, they probably get tired just like anyone else later in the day. I even got Roger to pose with the princesses, at first resistantly, but later willingly.
Extra Tips, Tricks, & Advice:
One of the first things we noticed was how amazing fast passes have become with the new FastPass+ system which allows early reservations for your favorite rides. They have been around for years, but this was our first time using the new system. When we tried to explain it to Roger’s grandfather he thought we were cheating for getting to go on some of the best rides in under 5 minutes while others waited over an hour for the same ride. However, the truth is that careful planning in the way of setting up your fast passes a few weeks in advance online can really come in handy!
Oh & one of the best parts was that we could see when our fast passes were set for, along with any lunch or dinner reservations that we made, as well as all of the wait times in all of the parks on the Disney World App!
Once you have used up your 3 fast passes you can get another one & once that new one has been used you can get another, and so on until the park closes or they run out of fast passes available. Although the chances of you being able to use more than 4 or 5 in one day is unlikely, unless you are able to schedule your first 3 early in the day.
Oh & the best tip I can give you about fast passes is to use them wisely, because they are an incredible asset!
The best way to know which fast passes you need, based off of what your family enjoys, is to get the app ahead of time & simply track the wait times of the rides you are most interested.
Long Lines & Children:
One thing that can be really hard for children is standing in line for an hour or two for a ride. While we don’t have any children yet we did stand in line a few times with a lot of children around us. While I don’t advocate for putting your children in front of a tv for easy distraction, I must admit that if there is ever a time to break that rule it is while standing in a long disney line. I saw a few parents doing this with their iPhones – my favorite was when I saw a little boy watching Magic School Bus. Oh & if you are worried about using up your batteries there are all sorts of awesome rechargeable cases & such that will keep your phone going all day!
Speaking of long lines, if there is an option for single rider & you are in a small group you might want to opt for this rather than a 2 hour wait. While I love riding with my husband I didn’t mind getting to go on a few rides a second time by choosing this option.
Another tip for getting on a ride with a long line, pay attention to when a ride temporarily stops working. As I mentioned in the Hollywood Studios post, sometimes it pays to wait around right outside a ride that is temporarily not working & that normally has 1-2 hour waits.
Eating & Snacking on a Budget:
Did you know you can bring food into the park (For full regulations you can check out Disney’s official website)? How awesome is that?! Although we did bring snacks into the park a few times & had planned on bringing mini meals too, I’ll be honest, we only ate what we bought in the park.
The truth is eating in the parks isn’t that expensive if done right & you don’t try to eat at all the fanciest restaurants. We only drank water (not bottled & free), we didn’t get appetizers, & we shared everything!
Souvenirs, Glow Sticks, & Children:
The best advice I can give is to plan ahead. If you are on a tight budget set limits to how much you will spend on trinkets & souvenirs. If you have several children maybe even give them their own set amount of money so that they will learn to be responsible for only buying what they want the most. Oh & if you plan on watching any of the parades or fireworks, save yourself some extra cash by pre-buying your bubbles & glow sticks from a dollar store. That way you can still have the extra fun while saving money!
Oh & one last thing, you can find Mickey Mouse everywhere! Keep your eyes wide open to find Mickey ears on carpet, as decor in scenery (even in the decor of rides), & many other locations you wouldn’t imagine!
I’d love to hear from you!
What is your favorite thing about Walt Disney World?
Feel free to comment below, email me, or tweet me on Twitter!
With love, G
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