After a glorious day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we spent the remaining three days soaking up all the Disney we could handle. There are whole books dedicated to visiting Disney, so this certainly will not be an all inclusive guide, just our experiences as honeymooners.
There are plenty of options for lodging in and around Disney and Orlando, but Mr. P and I decided to stay on Disney property. Hotels at Disney range from crazy expensive to economical (aka slightly less than crazy expensive). We decided to stay at Port Orleans French Quarter, which is considered an intermediate hotel, because we wanted to splurge on our honeymoon, but still be able to pay our rent.
Not the best view of the hotel, but it reminded me of Savannah (where we got engaged!)
There are lots of perks to staying on Disney property; they pick you up from the hotel, they put your bags in your room for you, they have free shuttles to all the parks, and even more things that I’m forgetting now.
Another perk is a book of coupons and special offers to use during your stay. Most of the time I think these coupons are just a way to get people to spend more money, but Mr. P and I decided to use the offer for a free photo book of the images taken by those photographers set up in front of all the big attractions, like the Cinderella castle. I fully expected the book to either be crap or require some sort of hidden payment like shipping and handling, but it came in last week completely free! And even though it’s not the highest quality photo book I’ve ever made, the price was right and it contains some pretty decent pictures us we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
Photos by those Disney photopass photographers
There are four major parks at Disney and two water parks. We chose to focus on visiting the four major parks over the water parks since we were only there for a few days, and because I forgot a swimsuit because I was really prepared for this trip…not.
Magic Kingdom is the original park at Disney and as such it is the most busy. If you only have one day at Disney, visiting the Magic Kingdom would be my number one suggestion; there is a lot to see in it and has the most iconic Disney feel.
None of the rides in Magic Kingdom are overly exhilarating, but the few that are more exciting get busy very quickly, so visit them early. I’m thinking Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (basically, if you see something with mountain in the title, get to it early).
Although we chose to skip some of the kiddie rides (OMG, the lines), I was glad we decided to ride the ones we did, if only because I captured my favorite picture of Mr. Pony ever whilst riding the teacups:
That’s pure joy right there.
If you’re planing on Disneymooning in 2012, you may get to check out the newest addition to the Magic Kingdom: Fantsyland. Disney is currently constructing Fantasyland, which will include Belle’s castle and a circus. The area is of course blocked off, but I managed to take a couple of pictures of the progress back in September, I’m so excited about the new castle!
My top picks in the Magic Kingdom are It’s a Small World (it’s a family tradition of sorts), Carousel of Progress, and the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Factory.
Epcot has two different areas: the World showcase and Future World. The World Showcase, as the name suggests, features food, architecture, attractions, and copious amounts of shopping from several countries around the world. I really enjoy spending time in the World Showcase because there’s lots of excellent food and culture to absorb, yet far less children than other parts of the parks.
Kick ass Canadian band we watched for a bit
Making my way to the Ministry of Magic (notice how happy I look)
The other portion of the park, Future World, another self explanatory name, contains rides and attractions that focus on technology and innovations. There a lot of really fun, interactive things to do in Future World, but you can do everything at your own pace, which my legs appreciated since they were still sore days after the raging dance party that was our reception. My top picks in Epcot include Soarin’, Test Track, and Spaceship Earth.
MGM, er, Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios, as the name suggests, is Disney’s interpretation of the glitz and glam of Hollywood. There are lots of attractions based on popular movies and some that offer a behind-the-scenes look at how movies are produced. Hollywood Studios is usually one of my favorite parks, but they seemed to have about a third of the attractions shut down for redevelopment. They still had the Tower of Terror and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster open, which are the high speed and thrill seeking rides, but I was disappointed that so many things were closed during our visit. My other favorite attractions at Hollywood Studios include Star Tours and the Muppet Show.
Even though this is the newest park, Animal Kingdom still has a lot to offer. As the name suggests, this park focuses on all things animals. They have a lot of different ways to learn and interact with animals, but my favorite way to see the animals is on the Safari. Each trip is a new adventure and you never know what animals you’ll see; it makes me feel like I’m five, because I’m so enthralled and focused on seeing new animals each time.
Elephant family seen on our safari
To spice things up, Animal Kingdom also offers a few attractions not focused solely on animals, including Dino Land, A Bug Life Show, and the only roller coaster in the park, Expedition Everest.
My one complaint is that Animal Kingdom closes way earlier than any of the other parks. We just used this time to shop at Downtown Disney (they have an entire store dedicated to magnets—it’s kind of my favorite).
Blizzard Beach/Typhoon Lagoon
Like I mentioned before, we didn’t make it to the water parks on our honeymoon because I completely failed at packing, but I have been to each park before and can attest that they are both great, especially if it is a solid ninety degrees every day of your honeymoon.
When Mr. P booked our honeymoon, the Disney Dining Plan was included in the cost of our tickets, so naturally, we signed up for it. On our plan we were allotted one snack, one quick service meal, and one sit down (aka fancy) meal per day, which is a lot of food. Some people choose not to order the dessert with their meals because they don’t need it after all the food they eat on the meal plan, but I am not some people. I always ordered dessert (honeymoon dessert is calorie free).
My only complaint with the dining plan were the restrictions. At one restaurant you get an appetizer, another you get one off an approved list, another you don’t get appetizers at all, and some restaurants take two meals of your meals. The double meal thing you can look up ahead of time, the appetizers stuff you cannot (that I know of), and a girl needs to know what she stands on appetizers. At least there was always dessert.
You make everything better, dessert!
The dining establishments at Disney are plentiful. No matter what you fancy, they probably have it somewhere at Disney. I haven’t even been to close to half of the eating establishments at Disney, but I’ve never been disappointed, which is saying something coming from this picky eater. Every place we visited offered at least one vegetarian option (although almost no vegan options), and even though I think they could offer a few more options for those that do not prefer meat, I can honestly say I never went hungry.
Oh, and tips are not included on the check, which looking back makes sense, but not something I thought about, so budget accordingly.
Yes, Disney is primarily thought of as a place for kids, but there are plenty of adult beverages to be had in the parks. Well, most of the parks. Magic Kingdom does not sell alcohol even though some would argue (*cough*me*cough*) that it is the park where alcohol is most needed.
Drinks are average to slightly above averagely priced. There is a wine upgrade available for the dining plan, but we elected not to purchase it. We didn’t think it was worth the money and after seeing the wine options, I think we made the right decision. We still ordered our fair share of wine, we just didn’t pay for it upfront and I think we actually saved a few bucks.
Picked entirely because of its name
I apologize for another ridiculously long post—hopefully it will make up for the fact that my recaps will be a while as I wait for the disc of our pro pictures!
Are you Disneymooning or Disney vacationing? What’s your favorite ride or attraction at Disney? What other tips would you add?