4 Ways to Unlock the Magic at Walt Disney World

Since Disneyland is practically in our backyard, that’s usually my point of reference when I am talking about “Disney”. Except this year, my family and I were invited to visit Walt Disney World for the first time. Though there are many similarities, there are also many attributes that makes them both unique in their own regard. Disneyland, Walt’s first adventure, is a smaller, much easier space to navigate. I personally love the nostalgia and feel of the 1950’s found in the look and decor, with some modern updates adapted into the mix. I love knowing that I am riding in the same Tea Cups and pushing through the same turn-styles my mom did as a young girl, and that my kids are doing now. There has always been the allure of Disney World, however, imagining the differences of the rides, the shows, the castle…exploring the different parks and being enveloped in Walt’s dream. Mobile Magic App…The first two days there, the kind folks at Disney World treated us to world class meals, and access to major attractions with a behind the scenes perspective. With them, I was quickly able to work my way through 3 massive theme-parks in a matter of 48-hours. Magical, indeed. But there was the small issue of having to do it alone, with my mother and two kids for the remainder of our trip. I can walk through Disneyland blindfolded. I know the short cuts, how to avoid crowds, when to escape for a nap and in what order to hit up the Fast Passes. Disney World, however, is a whole other beast. My mom and I would stand there frustrated and lost; stuck in the crowds, wishing we knew the back way or a short cut. At first, we were like Disney tourists, pulling out our maps every few feet, standing on the sideline, hoping the crowds would die down a bit. Then, something magical happened…as we were riding on the bus from where we were staying, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, to the Magic Kingdom, I saw an advertisement that changed the rest of our trip.

disney mobile magic app

Faster than you can say, “They have an app for that?”, the Disney Mobile Magic App was downloaded on my iPhone. I want to tell you why this app is a fantastic resource for your next trip, and what’s even more amazing, it works for both Disneyland and Disney World.

  • Lists daily operating hours and Magic Hours for each Theme Park and Entertainment Areas
  • Identifies times of each parade, show or special event
  • Map can be Virtual or by List identifying each Land, Ride and Hours of Operation
  • “Favorite” the attractions that are important for you and your family- they are then added to your list. From there, the app let’s you know Wait Time, which Favorite attraction you are closest to, and Fast Pass information
  • Characters are broken down into categories i.e.: Mickey and Friends, Princesses and Princes, Pixar Pals, etc., and located for you throughout the park
This app came in handy so many times, and added benefits are restaurant locations, weather and transportation. I was super impressed with how quickly it located and advised on our next best move. It was the closest thing to having our own personal tour guide, but this one is FREE.
Epcot…You may be asking what some of the differences are at Walt Disney World vs. Disneyland. My overall impression is that Disney World is big. Yes, it is big, and the rides and parks are set up differently. Since the weather in California doesn’t change much throughout the year, and Florida has a reputation for rain, many rides and lines are structured to be inside. One of my favorite rides at Disneyland, It’s A Small World, is glorified and given a beautiful setting and entrance, where as in Disney World, it’s just a ride at the end of a long, winding, uneventful line. Since Disney World has more space, there is a greater opportunity for shows and exhibits, and the luxury to position the rides better between each Theme Park. All that said, Disney World offers so much to do and see, as the entire property is truly a resort destination. Being there, I felt transported into my own Small World of many cultures, adventures, destinations and culinary delights. My favorite theme park is Epcot. I love how open and airy it feels, the visits to the many countries, and the food! We spent 2 days there, and I am anxious to go back again. I hear the Epcot Food and Wine Festival is something not to be missed. Here is a neat tidbit we learned while traveling through Epcot: Cast Members of each “country” are recruited from their homeland, making the experience even more authentic.
RSMLV Epcot Tips:
  • Epcot is configured differently than the other parks, leaving more room to roam, so it doesn’t feel as crowded.
  • Make sure to get your Duffy the Bear paper doll or Passport and have your kids visit the KidCot stations in each land where they will get a stamp and the Cast Member will draw a picture of that country’s flag.
  • Foods, treats and souveniers unique to each country
  • More availability of the characters and photo opps with them without too much hassle of the long lines.
Rides and Attractions…Epcot was one of our favorite places to visit, but the kids also enjoyed attractions from the other theme parks. I took a quick poll and asked my kids what their favorite things about Disney World were, and here is what they had to say:
Oliver: “I loved the ride Soarin’ and the Carousel of Progress.” -my little history buff; we always have something to explore together as we share the same passion for progress!
Stella: “I really loved going to lunch with Minnie and Mickey, and meeting all of your blogging friends. But my favorite rides were Splash Mountain and the Teacups.” -a girl after my own heart…she’s my little adventure rider! I know I always have a partner on the scary rides, just as soon as she is tall enough to ride all of them!
My absolute favorite attraction though, hands down,is the Rockin’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In fact, I’m going to say it is my favorite Disney attraction. Everything about it is exciting and fun from the line, to the theme, to hopping in the limo and speeding through the crazy roads and highways of LA. Without giving too much away, it seriously rocked my world. All in all, though, I just loved being there with two of my kids and my mom. It was a Disney trip of a lifetime for me!
aerosmith roller coaster
Travel Tips from the West Coast…For those of you on the West coast debating on whether or not to make the trip to Disney World, consider this: whenever you are a true fan of something, it’s always an exhilarating experience to visit the mecca. Disney World is a big trip for West coasters though, a lot of time and planning goes into making a trip like this affordable and enjoyable. Some things I found useful were knowing the following: (Learn a few more Disney tips to keep your trip stellar by reading my post Top 5 Tips for Luxury Disney Travel on Traveling Mom.)
  • Direct flight options on Southwest airlines from Las Vegas to Orlando
  • Utilizing Disney Vacations makes a planned vacation more affordable with payment plans and options
  • Meal and dining plans can be pre-paid to allow more availability of your spending budget
  • Park Hopper can be added onto your ticket for an additional cost
  • Resort hotels are available to accomodate every budget and every type of traveler (luxury, family, multi-generational, etc.)
Now that I’ve been, I would like to go back again. This time, my trip would be planned around a special event like Halloween, Christmas or the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. We have friends who live on the East coast, and this would be a great middle meeting spot with the kids. Only having been there for 5 days, there is stil so much more to see and explore, restaurants to eat at and hotels to stay in. The redesigned Fantasyland opens in early 2013, with a new roller coaster concept with a Snow White theme, Beauty and the Beast castle and restaurant that I can’t wait to see. In a few more years, I would love to go back with the whole family, and maybe even add a cruise onto our vacation. I found the weather in Florida to be quite comparable to that of Hawaii, and I have to tell you, Southerners know how to cook. We did not have a bad meal anywhere. Walt Disney’s vision of Disney World was to be a place full of magic. Where families could come to relax, no troubles, no worries. Escape reality for a bit and travel into a space and time that provoked good old fashion family fun and create memories for years to come. Can’t say he didn’t succeed…the whole time on our trip, I felt like I was no where else but in the happiest place in the world!
A special thank you to the Walt Disney World Public Relations division for inviting my family and me to experience Walt Disney World, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, experiences and special attractions. All opinions and statements are of my own accord.

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14 thoughts on “4 Ways to Unlock the Magic at Walt Disney World

  1. Having lived in Orlando for 6 years from 5 to 11 years old, I was used to Disney World and thought Disneyland was so small and crowded when we moved out here in 1991. LOL! Your trip looks amazing and I can’t wait to read about your next adventures!

    1. Abigail, you are so right, it’s all a matter of perspective when it comes to the parks and which ones your are the most familiar/confortable with. Either way, if you are on a Disney vacation, no matter where, you can’t go wrong!

  2. Looks like y’all had a blast! Yes, Disneyworld and the Magic Kingdom are much different than Disneyland, but so much fun.
    So, what’s next… EuroDisney or a Disney Cruise? 😉

    1. Ha! Carolina…I don’t know…probably the cruise before we hit EuroDisney, though that’s on my list for the BIG 40! Will have to see which happens first!

    1. Thanks, Christie! You should try the Mobile Magic App next time, I swear, it’s even better. We would be standing in a spot, and the app would tell us what “Favorite” attraction we were closest to. It also gives wait times, I forgot to mention that.

  3. Disneyland is still my favorite but I loved going to DisneyWorld too. Looks like you had a great time. We recently were able to go to Disney Paris and had tons of fun there. That app sounds like a great thing to use on a Disney trip.

  4. Great post, Stefanie! We’ve never been to Disneyworld, even when we lived on the East coast. The one we’ve been to several times in Disneyland, but we haven’t been in about 12 years. Your post gets me excited about going again though…Mattie and Courtney have never been and I would love to take them before they get too much older.

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