I had grown up having annual passes to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, but have always dreamed of going to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. After we got married, we decided to take the trip before we had kids and I am so glad we did because I got to decide everything we did (I’m the Disney adult and my husband enables me haha). In preparation for our trip, I made a list of the attractions that Disneyworld had that Disneyland doesn’t, prioritized which rides we wanted to do, shows and showtimes, and reserved what fastpasses I could (we decided to just do quick service food so we could spend more times on rides). I planned fully-packed days based on lots of research, and had a lot of fun planning the trip (if planning doesn’t sound fun to you, Disney travel agents offer complimentary services so definitely utilize one). We also decided to get every pressed penny we saw which was super fun and a great way to get lots of souvenirs for cheaper. We didn’t have time for enjoying our resort or Disney Springs, unfortunately. We went over a holiday weekend, Friday-Monday. I read so many blog posts that were super helpful, so hopefully this one helps provide a little help. We did not focus on food on this trip, nor resorts, just rides and shows.
We took a redeye flight late Thursday night on the West Coast, arriving Friday morning in Florida, and jumped right into day one. Husband is such a trooper, because I run on Disney magic and don’t need a lot of rest on a Disney trip but my husband just had to go through it with little sleep. We took the Magical Express from the airport to our resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside (it’s beautiful). We checked in, left luggage with the bell hop, and waited for the bus to Magic Kingdom. We had park hopper tickets, hooked up to our magic bands, and I wanted to experience every minute in the parks that I could.
Day 1 – Magic Kingdom
I really wanted to see this park even though it is similar to Disneyland in California, so we focused on seeing the attractions that were not at Disneyland. We took the bus from the Port Orleans Resort to Magic Kingdom’s parking lot (we actually got on the bus to Epcot first because we didn’t realize there’s a separate bus to each resort haha), then the boat from the parking lot to the park entrance. It was a great experience, and I’m glad we took the boat instead of the potentially-faster monorail. I had particularly looked up differences between Disneyland and Magic Kingdom, so I wanted to start with the Sorcerers card game (which was just discontinued, sadly. I would have loved to collect all the cards and play if we were local!) We of course stopped to pose for a castle picture, peeked inside the Crystal Palace, and then headed into Liberty Square. We had a waffle at Sleepy Hollow (yes, I had also looked up the best food to get at each park), and got to see some Muppets performing over Liberty Square. I had fond memories of the Country Bear Jamboree when it was at Disneyland (now replaced by the Winnie the Pooh ride) and was excited to see it. I had no idea it had so many adult jokes, and was as if it was a fresh show to me as an adult. We grabbed some citrus swirl on our way into Fantasyland, where we stopped to watch the Philharmagic show (which is now in California Adventure! I was so happy when it joined us on the West Coast because I loved it). We had secured fastpasses for the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor (I was never able to get some for the Mine Train, despite checking many many times), then watched the Festival of Fantasy parade, rode the People Mover, looked around Cinderellas castle, and stopped at Gaston’s Tavern. We decided to stand in the standby line for the mine train, but it broke down and while we were waiting (we hadn’t even gotten far into line) it began to become dinner time. I was worried about getting a good spot for the fireworks and would rather miss the mining train than fireworks so we left line, grabbed some dinner, and camped out in front of the castle. They played different movie scenes on it, the fireworks were amazing, and they played another song and movie scenes after. We were tired so we headed out of the park and while waiting for the monorail to the bus stops got see part of the electrical water pageant out on the lagoon which was magical.
Day 2 – Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios
I had planned out completely full days for us, so despite the time change, we were up early on day two, starting with a wakeup call from Mickey! Dear Husband was a trooper, because he’s not a Disney fanatic so the only thing pulling him was me (versus I run on Disney magic so I didn’t feel tired during this trip). We grabbed some breakfast at our resort (it was like a giant dining hall, very fun – and it had a penny pressing machine!) before heading to the bus stop, and headed to start our day at Animal Kingdom. We got a Photopass photo in front of the Tree of Life, and got a free wilderness explorer guide (Disney adult here – I want all the magic!). We started in Dino Land and rode Dinosaur. We had scored a last-minute reservation for breakfast with characters at Tusker House and thoroughly enjoyed it – we got pictures with each of the characters as they came by, as well as good breakfast buffet food. Then we rushed over to our fastpass reservations at the Festival of Lion King, which was incredible – the singing, costumes, and it was fun to have guests on all four sides. We also saw the Finding Nemo musical across the park, which I didn’t like as much but comparing it to Lion King Isn’t fair at all. I had gotten us fastpasses for Expedition Everest afterwards. The safari wait times stayed at about an hour throughout the morning so we decided that it wasn’t worth it to us, and went to Hollywood Studios for the remainder of the afternoon and night (Pandora sadly wasn’t open yet).
It was raining when we arrived at Hollywood Studios so we bought some overpriced ponchos and headed straight for an indoor ride. We started with the Great Movie Ride (which I really enjoyed), watched Beauty and the Beast, then watched Indiana Jones, and then it was time to grab seats for Fantasmic. We had some hot dogs on our way to the Fantasmic line and though I knew it was bigger at DisneyWorld, I was blown away by how far away and how many seats Fantasmic had. It was a very different experience than sitting in front of New Orleans Square at Disneyland wihtin eyesight of Pirates of the Caribbean, watching the ships a few feet ahead of you, with Mickey on the Pirate’s Lair island. At Hollywood Studios, there were actual benches to sit on (and so many!), and it was a cleaner show given that it was performed in space dedicated for that show. After Fantasmic was over, we still had a little time before the park closed and got to ride Rockin Rollercoaster before heading back to the resort for the night.
Day 3 – Epcot
We ate breakfast at our resort again, and headed to Epcot for the day. We got there before it opened on purpose, hoping to get on Test Track since I hadn’t been able to get any fastpasses for it. We took an iconic picture in front of Epcot ball, and headed straight for Test Track. I had a lot of fun designing our car, and the ride itself was fun too. Next, we did spaceship earth (which took much longer than we planned, as it broke down but we chose to stay in line), then headed to the World Showcase. We wanted to eat and drink around the world, but weren’t able to finish. We started with lunch and drinks in Mexico and got the fun little passports that kids can get stamped (again – Disney adult here). We rode the Gran Fiesta Tour, which is super cute and reminded me of Small World. We had shots in Norway where we chose to not wait in the Frozen line, saw Chinese acrobats in the Chinese pavilion (more drinks), drank and explored the other lands, ate dinner in morocco (more drinks), didn’t finish drinking past Morocco but made it around all the lands, watched the Illuminations night show, and were super tired by the time we got back to our resort.
Day 4 – Magic Kingdom and Home
We had left this day open for anything we felt we wanted to see more of, especially because we did not spend a lot of time in Hollywood Studios on Day 2. However, we both felt we had gotten to do all we wanted to there, and that we’d like to enjoy more of Magic Kingdom. First we packed our room and left the bags with the bell hop, then headed out to Magic Kingdom. We had some mickey waffles for breakfast on Main Street and then went to the Tiki Room. It is different from the one here at Disneyland, especially the waiting queue, and I’m glad we went. We walked around Adventureland and decided to have lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern. We got the bride and groom ears, and a Photopass photographer took moer pictures of us on Main Street. Then we had to catch the Magical Express back at the resort. The buses had been running regularly and we didn’t have to wait for them long during our trip so we didn’t budget much extra time but this time the bus took a long time to pick us up and return us to our resort, so we barely caught the Magical Express back to the airport, but we did make it.
We were so tired after the trip but it was so worth it and I’m so so glad we went together before we had kids (so I got to choose everything we did haha). We are currently planning our next trip, this time with my in-laws and three toddlers between us all. Follow my plans here. This time we are using a Disney travel agent so I don’t have to stress about making the dining reservations, or transportation between the airport and resort.
If you need help planning your Disneyland trip, I can help! I have created a free spreadsheet in Google Sheets to help my email subscribers maximize their magical trip to Disneyland. Once you become an email subscriber (use the handy box on the right), you will receive an email with the password to my resource library with various Disneyland resources, including my PDF of tips, downloadable Google planning sheets, Disneyland scavenger hunts, and more! For a sneak peek and more info on my planning sheets, click here. You may also be interested in my posts on taking a toddler to Disneyland, packing a diaper bag for Disneyland, or visiting Disneyland in 2021, or my other Disneyland posts.