So you’ve planned your Walt Disney World vacation and are ready to dive into the chaos. But what if you want something different? What if you’re bringing your grandmother and know an 8am- 1am day isn’t going to work? What if you’re committed to riding those rides from when you were a kid? What if you’re ready to tackle the parks to fit in as many rides as possible? What if you really just need awesome snacks and lots of coffee? We’ve got some ideas to help you out.
Choosing your own Disney Adventure
Every Disney vacation looks different, but believe it or not you get to decide how to spend it! Here’s your choose your own adventure Disney Day schedule for each mood.
If you’re in the mood to indulge at Disney…
If you’re ready to just give yourself everything you’ve ever wanted, this is what we recommend. Stay at the Grand Floridian. While this deluxe resort is slightly classier than we like our Disney vacations, if you’re ready to go crazy and blow some money, the Grand Floridian is where you can get away with it. Need a new look? Head over to the Ivy Trellis Salon for new hairstyle, or head to Senses for maybe a facial or massage. Grab a new outfit at Summer Lace downstairs. Here you’ll find jewelry, Dooney and Bourke and lovely clothes by Lily Pulitzer, perfect for your indulgent day out.
After your easy morning, hop on the monorail and head to Epcot. We love Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie for espresso, macaroons, cappuccino and croissants. Spend the morning strolling through Epcot and the Boardwalk. Be sure to meander through the shop in Norway to smell our favorite perfume, Laila. Or head over to the UK to pick up some special teas, visit Italy for a great new handbag, and Canada for cozy pajamas. Tackle rides if you like or lounge on the beach at the Beach Club.
We like lunch best at Monsieur Paul’s in France at Epcot, pricey yes, but absolutely the best food around. After lunch Magic Kingdom is next on your list. Apart from the great shopping, you can enjoy treats from The Confectionery- we like the red velvet cake pop best. Snow whites mine ride, Ariel’s under the sea adventure and meeting Gaston are on every girls to-do list so head to the back of the park to Fantasyland. For dinner we recommend California Grill at the Contemporary for a late 8:30 reservation so you can watch the fireworks over Magic Kingdom or catch the monorail back to the Dolphin for some high-end eating at Todd English’s bluezoo. Whatever your day holds, know that we haven’t touched all the indulgences at Disney Springs yet, so when you’re ready, there will be plenty to choose from.
If you’re in the mood to relax at Disney…
Managing to relax while on a Disney vacation may seem like an insurmountable feat, but it is possible. For us it’s all about planning out the day ahead of time.
9am: Instead of rushing out the resort door with the kids/boyfriend/friends you can spend this morning meandering over to hang out at the resort pool, walking to the food court to get a cup of coffee, or browsing your resort. If you’re lucky enough to be at a resort with surrey bikes, this may be a nice way to ease into the day.
11am: There are less people venturing into the parks at this time of day so the buses will be less crowded. No matter which park you choose, know that Animal Kingdom is usually the most relaxing by design. If you’re only going to get one relaxing day on your trip, plan it for a Tuesday or Wednesday.
Magic Kingdom: If heading to Magic Kingdom for your relaxing day plan to grab a coffee at starbucks and head to the hub grass. At 12 noon you can watch Friendship Faire at Cinderellas Castle or listen to the Casey’s Corner pianist at 12:30 pm or meet the Dapper Dans at 12:45 pm. Our favorite relaxing rides are the People Mover, Pirates of the Carribean, It’s a Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight, Ariel’s Under the Sea Adventure and Haunted Mansion. These slower moving rides are all in air conditioning and allow you to just sit back and relax. We also love Mickey’s Philharmagic for the movie like atmosphere and cute show. If you’re booking fast passes try for times between 1pm and 4pm. If you need a break about now from the crowds head over to The Grand Floridian on the monorail. You can book tea at the Gardenview Tea Room, or head to dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe. Dining off site will be the best way to limit the craziness. If you choose to head back into the park after dinner we recommend the the Space Orbiter in Tomorrowland. At night it gives you great views of the park and has smaller lines.
Animal Kingdom: Walking into Animal Kingdom you enter the Oasis which houses all the shops and the Tree of Life. Turn right towards Pandora which is allows a hole atmosphere of calm. If you’re booking fast passes for your relaxing day choose the Navi River Journey anytime 11-1pm, the Festival of the Lion King 1 pm show and if you’re staying later Rivers of Light at 7/8pm. You can meander over for the 2pm show of Flights of Wonder in Asia. The nighttime digital show on the Tree Life is also beautiful and a great show to watch on your way out of the park. The best food options at Animal Kingdom are the Yak and Yeti which is a table service restaurant and the Satuli Canteen for lunch. ProTip: Send one of your party to find and hold your table while you’re in line, even if you’ve mobile ordered. And try to eat during non meal hours.
Epcot: The best way to ease into Epcot is actually through the Boardwalk. In this case you would grab the bus to Hollywood Studios. Then instead of going to HS you would turn to the right and follow the path to the Boardwalk. You will recognize it because the Swan and Dolphin tower over this path in the distance. Its a pretty short walk and will keep you away from the crowds. Starting at the boardwalk you can peruse the shops and check out the Beach and Yacht club resorts. Head into Epcot through the International Gateway and turn right towards France. In france you can grab a late breakfast or a coffee. The World showcase is extra busy during festival times so be aware of this. For a relaxing day you’ll want to get fastpasses for Frozen Ever After and Soarin. We also like Under the Sea with Nemo and Friends, Pixar shorts in Future World, Living with the Land in the The Land and the Gran Fiesta ride in Mexico, but none of these rides need fastpasses. A relaxing day at Epcot involves browsing MouseGear, and the shops in the World Showcase.
Hollywood Studios has a few low key things you can appreciate. A rustic starbucks is tucked into a whole street of shops, so grab a coffee and browse around. We love the Indiana Jones stunt show spectacular, the Muppetvision, and the Beauty and the Beast show. For some non-ride fun Check out Grand Avenue for a throwback to vintage L.A and head over to the Sci-Fi Diner for a good old fashioned drive in experience complete with milkshake.
No matter which park you’ve chosen for your relaxing day try to head out before the crowds and catch the bus early. Our favorite part of getting back to the resort for an early night is filling our mugs up with cocoa or tea at the resort restaurant and heading out for the nightly movie on the lawn. At some resorts you can get s’mores as a bonus.
If you’re looking to do all the things at Disney
If you’ve read through our bucket lists you already know all the things we recommend in each park. Here’s a few extra tips for how to make your Disney Vacation a little more whirlwind.
Magic Kingdom Bucket List
Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain- these are the rides you’ll tackle for your whirlwind thrillist day at our favorite kid-centric park. Also be sure to try the signature treats; Dole Whip, Lefou’s Brew, and the Kitchen Sink Ice Cream Sundae can help make this day feel extra epic. Grab a set of playing cards at the fire station and play a round of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom to feel like a native.
Animal Kingdom Bucket List
Expedition Everest, Pandora Flight of the Banshee and Kali River Rapids are your go to rides for the day. Animal Kingdom is filled with mini adventures, so if you’re looking for more be sure to hop on the Kilimanjaro Safari, or Dinosaur ( as it may not be around much longer). Trademark things to add to your day is the zebra cupcake and the Ocarina pink flamingo drink available in the Harambe market gift shop and snack counter. Dole Whip with rum and if you can get your hands on it, POG.
Epcot Bucket List
While Epcot may not be the most thrill seeking park you’ll have plenty to mark off your bucket list with both the land and the seas as well as all 11 countries in the World Showcase. There are other things to top off your Epcot Bucket List and give you a 360 experience of Epcot. Try the funny tasting sodas from around the world at Club Cool. Check out Figments Journey into Imagination, watch the fountain shows set to music in Future World, and stop to see the musical chefs on Epcot who take to the midway a few times a day. The world showcase too has several shows specific to each country, that if you’re looking to do it all just start in Mexico and go from there.
Hollywood Studios Bucket List
The Tower of Terror is of course on our ride list, as is the Rockin Roller Coaster ( soon to be replaced), but so many new things have started popping up in Hollywood Studios that there will be no shortage of things to do! Watch the storm trooper march, jedi training, and be sure to catch a show or two. Toy Story land opens April 2018, so there will be a slew of additional rides, including the Slinky Dog Roller Coaster. For treats we always go for the churros available at a few select carts, the butterfinger cupcake at Starring Rolls Cafe and the PBJ milkshake at the Tune-In Lounge.
Whatever adventure you choose, be sure to have fun! It’s easy to get caught up in the planning and then wonder where the day went. Just have fun!