Now more than ever is the time to visit Walt Disney World! My four-year-old son Reagan, my 9-month-old son Ezra, and myself recently checked off a Disney bucket list experience with our first ever visit to Walt Disney World Resort. It probably comes as no surprise that we had the absolute time of our lives! With the opportunity to visit all four Parks, we saw so many new and exciting things, experienced Disney magic like never before, and made countless memories. I’m thrilled to share why now, more than ever, is the best time to book a trip to Walt Disney World with your little ones! With over 80 kid-friendly attractions across all four parks, numerous character meet and greets, the most magical entertainment ever, and plenty of special and new experiences throughout the year, Walt Disney World is the ultimate vacation spot for any Disney family.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom offers so much for all ages, but seeing the magic of this park through my four-year-old’s eyes was truly special. Before I get into all the fun we had, I wanted to share the first thing I did when we found out about our Walt Disney World vacation: I downloaded the My Disney Experience App. From maps of all four theme parks to reservations, the My Disney Experience App has it all. You can book Fast Passes up to 60 days in advance, mobile order your food, make dining reservations, find character meet and greet locations, and lots more. It helped us so much during our visit!
A Disney vacation isn’t complete without seeing Mickey Mouse. Now through September 30, 2019, Magic Kingdom is celebrating big with “Mickey and Minnie’s Surprise Celebration!” There are a number of limited-time festivities, but a few of the things we enjoyed include meeting Mickey and Minnie in their adorable celebration outfits at Celebration Central inside the Town Square Theater, and signing the celebration book to receive our commemorative party invitation with stickers inside! The party invitation also shares ten ways guests can #CelebrateMickey throughout the Magic Kingdom.
Our absolute favorite part of Mickey and Minnie’s Surprise Celebration was the “Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party!” This upbeat dance party featuring Mickey and his pals takes travel down Main Street before stopping in front of Cinderella Castle. The floats, dancing characters, and the new song, “It’s a Good Time” is sure to get you moving your feet!
We enjoyed the many kid-friendly attractions in Fantasyland like Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and the Mad Tea Party. Then we made our way into the Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland. Both Reagan and I agree that Storybook Circus was one of our favorite spots in the park. And if you didn’t already guess, Storybook Circus is home to the famous “Dumbo the Flying Elephant” attraction, which has an entire interactive play zone for kids inside the line queue – genius! Storybook Circus is also where you’ll find Casey Jr. Splash ’N’ Soak Station (great for cooling off), and Pete’s Silly Sideshow where guests can meet characters like the Great Goofini, Astounding Donaldo, Daisy Fortuna, and the newest character meet and greet, Wonder Pup Pluto.
My son Reagan is super active and adventurous, so he really loved all that Adventureland had to offer. From interactive play areas to attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise, he was in his element! He also really loved flying around on the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. To add to the adventure, we visited Tomorrowland for a ride on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and the People Mover. Talk about nostalgia for Mom!
Entertainment is always at the top of our list when we visit a Disney Resort. Throughout the day, the parks offer various entertainment to put a pep in your step! We loved Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire at Cinderella Castle, featuring a ton of favorite Disney characters, and the Festival of Fantasy Parade. One show that for sure got us feeling the Disney magic like never before was the fireworks spectacular, “Happily Ever After!” We sang along to some of our favorite Disney songs, and even cried at times from how beautiful & powerful the show was. The projections, lasers and fireworks are the biggest and best in the history of Magic Kingdom’s fireworks spectaculars – it really is a must-see. An added bonus to waiting for Happily Ever After to begin was the projections show on Cinderella Castle called, “Once Upon a Time.”
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Hooray for Hollywood! Disney’s Hollywood Studios is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year! Just like Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios has so much for preschool-aged kiddos. We started our day with the Disney Junior Dance Party! featuring Doc McStuffins, Timon from “The Lion Guard,” Roadster Racer Mickey, and the newest member of the character line up, Vampirina! This show will get you dancing from the minute it begins! Just outside the Disney Junior Dance Party! theater, in the Animation Courtyard, favorite Disney Junior characters are available for photos and autographs.
New to Disney’s Hollywood Studios as of Summer 2018 is Toy Story Land. It’s almost difficult to put into words how incredible and immersive this place is. Of course, Reagan absolutely loved it, but I was just as amused by all of it! Toy Story Land offers three attractions: Slinky Dog Dash, Toy Story Mania! and Alien Swirling Saucers. All of the attractions are extremely fun and detailed – it really felt like we had shrunk down to the size of Andy’s toys. The Green Army Men are out and about for fun games with guests. There are tons of photo opportunities, and even a great spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner called, “Woody’s Lunchbox” (Try the Totchos!). Toy Story Land is also home to meet and greets with Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear.
As part of Disney’s Hollywood Studios 30th Anniversary, guests can stop by Pixar Place for “An Incredible Celebration!” The celebration includes a dance party with Mr. & Mrs. Incredible and Frozone, a new food stand with Jack Jack Num Num Cookies and other themed eats, fun photo backdrops to show your #IncredibleSide, and a character meet and greet with the iconic fashion designer, Edna Mode.
My son Reagan is a huge Star Wars fan, so he was thrilled when he found out that Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a live show called, “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away,” where all of the most popular Star Wars characters appear on stage. He was also very excited to experience “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular” at night, and watch Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. Perhaps the most exciting news to share for any Star Wars fans out there is that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a brand new Star Wars land, will be opening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the end of 2019!
Something that I know my son would have loved, but we didn’t get to experience because it won’t be open to guests until March 31, 2019 is “Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy.” This show that teaches guests what it’s like to be a champion racer features Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater, and Cruz Ramirez. There is even a meet and greet with Cruz after the show! I guess we’ll just have to plan another trip to see this!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
We fell in love with Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This was one of the most immersive experiences we have ever had at a Disney Park. Everything was so beautiful and detailed. For my four-year-old, seeing animals and Disney magic in the same place was like a dream come true!
In 2017, Disney’s Animal Kingdom welcomed a new addition, Pandora – The World of Avatar. This area of the Park completely blew us away! The details were jaw dropping. It really felt like we were in another world. Pandora offers two attractions. The first attraction is Avatar Flight of Passage, where guests can experience a thrilling ride on a mountain banshee! The second attraction is Na’vi River Journey, a boat cruise through a breathtaking bioluminescent rainforest. These two attractions are extremely popular, so I highly suggest booking FastPass+ for both, if available. Aside from attractions and taking in every detail of Pandora, we also thoroughly enjoyed the Pandora Utility Suit, the Swoto Wayä Na’vi Drum Ceremony and the food at Satu’li Canteen and Pongu Pongu. Be sure to try the Night Blossom Beverage! And definitely stop by Pandora at night to see the bioluminescent rainforest all lit up.
Currently, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is celebrating the 25th Anniversary of “The Lion King” with two special photo spots and special experiences! You can find one photo backdrop at the park entrance, and find the famous scene where Simba, Timon and Pumbaa are walking on a log over a waterfall along the walkway toward Pandora. The “Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party” featuring characters like Timon, Baloo, Terk, Rafiki and Koda was so much fun, and a great way to celebrate 25 years of the beloved Lion King. Lastly, we enjoyed “Festival of The Lion King,” an amazing live-stage show featuring Simba, Timon, Pumbaa, and all the classic songs from the film that we know and love! With multiple showtimes daily, there are plenty of opportunities to make time to see it (and FastPass+ is available).
Disney’s Animal Kingdom wouldn’t be Animal Kingdom without animals! There are all kinds of animals to see in the park in Africa and Asia. One of our favorite animal experiences was on the Kilimanjaro Safaris. We spotted (and were so close to) giraffes, wildebeests, elephants and lions, and even saw a hippo getting a teeth brushing! The Kilimanjaro Safaris is a popular experience, so I recommend booking FastPass+ as early as possible through the My Disney Experience App. Another favorite adventure for Reagan was Gorilla Falls. As far as entertainment and animals goes, we thoroughly enjoyed “UP! A Great Bird Adventure,” featuring the lovable Russell and Dug. We learned a ton about all different kinds of birds!
Something I actually never knew existed at Animal Kingdom, but was pleasantly surprised by, especially for my dino-loving four-year-old, was DinoLand U.S.A. This land has three attractions, including a Boneyard Fossil Fun Site where kids can play and explore, arcade games, and character meet and greets with Donald Duck, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Chip ’n’ Dale, Scrooge McDuck, and Launchpad McQuack. Donald Duck is even hosting “Donald’s Dino Bash!” Out of the three attractions in DinoLand, Primeval Whirl and TriceraTop Spin Aerial Carousel are great for preschoolers. On the edge of DinoLand U.S.A, you’ll find “Finding Nemo — The Musical,” another great entertainment option for preschool-aged kids.
At nightfall, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is especially magical. We enjoyed seeing the Tree of Life on Discovery Island come to life in the evening with projections and familiar Disney tunes. This occurs about every 10 minutes after dark until closing, so there are plenty of chances to see it!
In just one day of exploring Epcot, we traveled around to different countries of the world, ventured into the future, outer space and even went under the sea with Nemo and friends! It was such a unique and memorable experience. Aside from the variety of delicious and authentic cuisines we indulged in (so much eating!), Reagan’s favorite Epcot adventures included our voyage to Arendelle on the “Frozen Ever After” attraction in Norway, visiting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus, stopping by the Kidcot Fun Stops in the World Showcase pavilions for a commemorative souvenir and coloring, the Gran Fiesta Tour boat ride with The Three Caballeros, exploring Future World, and seeing IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, which is set to end at the end of Summer 2019.
Walt Disney World really has something for the whole family, but there is truly nothing quite like seeing Disney through a little one’s eyes – pure magic! I can’t wait to look back on our photos one day and show Reagan and Ezra how much joy this trip brought them at such young ages. We are already dreaming up another Walt Disney World vacation for the memory books!