Disney Bound? Maybe Jon Can Help….Maybe You Can Too! [GALLERY]
Marie-Anne and I just got back from a trip to Disney World in Florida. I think this was my sixth time to the theme parks and there's more stuff every time I go plus new things being built all the time...
Now I started out pricing my trip online. Then I thought, if I can get a similar deal or pay just a little more, I'd like to support local business. I gave my friend Michele at Day's Travel in Waterville a call and told her what I had and asked her how close she could come to the price which, by the way, was excellent. She checked her sources and matched what I had. Not only that, over the course of the next week (mind you, we booked the trip a week and a half before we left), she called three times informing us the rental car price had dropped each time. Score!
We flew jetBlue out of Portland and stayed at the Holiday Inn Main Gate East in Kissimmee, just a few miles from Disney. I would have rather stayed at a Disney property for reasons I'll go into but this was less expensive and a really good option. We had stayed there before so we were familiar with the operation.
ADVANTAGES TO STAYING OFF DISNEY: Cheaper options for souvenirs and food plus access to a wider variety of just about everything non-Disney. If you use either option, you're better off with a rental car than relying on shuttles as you'll have much more freedom. On average, the accommodations cost a lot less, too.
ADVANTAGES TO STAYING ON DISNEY: Earlier park openings on various days for guests (an hour, usually), free parking (it's usually $14 a day), room key card can be used anywhere in any park as cash (this is handy but also quite dangerous) and more.
PASSES: The best way to buy passes if you have a week or more is multi-day park passes which come in different varieties. There's the one day/one park tickets which cost $94.79 each, including tax. A three day ticket costs $257.73. A six day ticket costs $296.07. With any multi-day ticket, you can add the "park hopper" option for $57 each. So, for example, a six day park hopper ticket (good at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom only) will run you $356.78. You can add Disney water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach) for $57 PER ticket, also. If you add both options, you'll get them for $79. With Disney, it's all about "the more you buy, the more you save." It seems to work pretty well for them. These prices are all adult prices. Kids are a bit less. Check here.
THINGS TO DO: Keep in mind, these are MY favorites. I'm not suggesting you'll like them all or that you won't like other things.
- Magic Kingdom: My list of must dos at the Magic Kingdom are: Hall of Presidents, It's A Small World, Carousel of Progress, Space Mountain (indoor roller coaster in the dark), Splash Mountain (log flume...closed until March), Big Thunder Mountain (family oriented roller coaster simulating a runaway train on a mountain), Country Bear Jamboree, train ride around the park, Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan's Flight and Pirates of the Caribbean. There are also parades (day and night), fireworks over Cinderella's Castle and many street performances you'll want to catch plus hundreds of things to see and do.
- EPCOT: My EPCOT must dos include: Spaceship Earth (the big EPCOT ball), The Living Seas, Soarin' (in The Land building), The American Adventure, Ellen's Energy Adventure, Test Track and everything around the World Showcase Lagoon including IllumiNations, after dark.4296.07
- Hollywood Studios: The Great Movie Ride, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (you actually drop from 13 stories in an elevator), Studio Backlot Tour, Star Tours (an excellent 3D space adventure with the Star Wars crew...not for the faint of heart), Muppet Vision 3D, and the Aerosmith Rockin' Roller Coaster (a truly wild, adrenaline pumping ride). Also, you'll want to do a lot of walking around here. Too many neat things to mention!
- Animal Kingdom: Animals...lots of them. Walking is a great way to discover most of them but the Kilimanjaro Safari is a MUST. Bring a camera and DON'T MISS THIS! Plus, Dinosaur (a ride), Kali River Rapids (currently closed) and my new favorite, Expedition Everest (a GREAT roller coaster!) The key at this park is walking. Use the enormous Tree of Life as your landmark and you'll always have some idea where you are in this huge park.
THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT: You should have this on your smartphone. Find "My Disney Experience" and install it on your phone. It will give you tons of real time info like how long the wait is to get on all the rides and attractions. Pretty cool!
FASTPASS: If you REALLY REALLY REALLY want to go on a certain ride, get a fast pass (free using your admission ticket). It will give you a return window and when you come back you'll get right on.
Please, if you have experiences and suggestions that might help someone have an enjoyable experience, please share!!