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What?!?! You’ve Never Been to Disney World? Here Are 5 Things You’ve Gotta Do!

What?!?! You’ve never been to Disney World? Here are the 5 things you just have to do!
Most people have at least heard of Walt Disney World, located near Orlando, Florida. After all, the Disney brand is everywhere! If you haven’t been there yourself, you likely know someone who has. For someone who is planning their first trip to the “Vacation Kingdom”, it can all be a bit overwhelming. Disney World is huge, and operates much like a big city. As a matter of fact, it is about the size of the city of San Francisco! You can never see it all in one trip, or even several trips. If this is your first time to go, consider prioritizing what you want to do and see during your vacation. Here are my top 5 “best of the best” tips for Walt Disney World.

5) Stay at a Disney resort – Disney owns and operates over 20 different resort hotels on their property. While you may pay more to stay with Disney, the advantages are numerous. Those include: free transportation from the Orlando airport to your Disney hotel (and back) via Disney’s Magical Express, well-maintained and beautifully-themed accommodations, Extra Magic Hours in the theme parks, free transportation to the theme parks, water parks and Downtown Disney, and most importantly, you are immersed in the Disney Magic 24 hours a day. If you’re going to Disney, do yourself a favor and stay with Disney. You will not regret it!

4) Do a Character meal – For kids of all ages, meeting your favorite Disney characters can be an exciting event! The Disney characters are everywhere, including all four theme park, and many of the Disney restaurants. Yes, you can stand in line to meet characters, but the best and most relaxing way is to do a character meal. Character meals are offered in all the theme parks and several of the resort hotels. Want to meet the Big Cheese himself, Mickey Mouse? Make a reservation at Chef Mickey’s over at the Contemporary Resort, just steps from the Magic Kingdom. Are you a fan of Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Woods? Have breakfast or dinner at the Crystal Palace, in the Magic Kingdom. Does your little princess want to meet the Disney Princesses? Schedule a meal in Epcot at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. There are many others to choose from. Be sure to have your autograph book and camera ready, to make lasting memories!

3) Rope Drop – For many, a true vacation involves sleeping late, and taking a break from the alarm clock. At Disney World, sleeping in can cost you valuable time in the theme parks. At least once or twice during your vacation, consider getting to the theme parks before opening. The advantages are worth the effort. The headliner attractions at each park develop long lines about mid-morning. Getting started early can help you stay ahead of the crowds and enjoy shorter wait times. Disney fans refer to this as “rope drop”, a term indicating the time when the Disney cast members allow the guests into the entire park. On days of expected high attendance, rope drop can actually happen before the stated opening time. Do yourself a favor and bring your alarm clock to use once or twice. On days you’d rather sleep in, be sure to set up Fastpass+ for your favorite attractions. This is a way for you to reserve ride times with little or no wait. Set up your free account a www.mydisneyexperience.com.

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2) Nighttime Spectaculars – The rides, attractions and shows at Disney World are certainly top-notch, and well-worth your time. Walt Disney’s original idea for Disneyland in California was for something parents and their children could do together. Disney excels at this! In addition, on most evenings, the Disney parks have spectacular nighttime shows to wrap up your day. These shows could very well be the highlight of your trip. Do not miss Wishes at the Magic Kingdom, an exciting fireworks show narrated by Jiminy Cricket, Illuminations at Epcot’s World Showcase, a stunning fireworks show that celebrates the spirit of humanity, and Fantasmic, a story of good vs. evil starring Mickey Mouse, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Even the most cynical of guests will be moved by the exceptional display of fireworks, storyline and music.

1) Parades – No one does a parade like Disney! The eye-popping floats, with their spectacular colors and displays, your favorite Disney characters and the music, will blow you away! Whatever you do, don’t miss the Festival of Fantasy afternoon parade and the Main Street Electrical nighttime parade, both at the Magic Kingdom. Stake out a seat early and enjoy your favorite Disney snack while you wait. Good locations to watch from include Main Street USA, the hub in front of Cinderella’s Castle and Frontierland.

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About Jimmie Jones

Jimmie is a retired school teacher from Texas, who has been going to Disney World for 25 years. He has experience in taking large groups to Disney, in addition to taking his own children and grandchildren. Jimmie and his wife Rhonda make annual trips to Disney World, Disneyland, and sail on the Disney Cruise Line.