02 October 2015

31 Days: Walt Disney World Overview

Disney World with Young Kids

Welcome, friends, to the first post of the series! I'll be kicking things off today with a brief overview of each park and area in Disney World. There's SO much to do and see, so be sure to check out the official Walt Disney World site for tons of great info. Also, check out the {About} Series from my previous 31 Disney Days series for a bit more in-depth info about each park!!

Disney World with Young Kids

Magic Kingdom
Quintessential Disney! If you only have one day, this is the park to hit, especially with wee ones! Take a step back in time as you stroll down Main Street USA (the main entrance way), stop by the ice cream parlor, get a hair cut at the Barber Shop (perfect for first hair cuts!!), browse through the shops, and of course stop to get a photo in front of Cinderella's Castle (there's many Disney photographers lining the street to help you out!). A mix of different themed "lands"- Tomorrowland, Adventureland, Frontierland... truly a magical place!

Take a step into the future- EPCOT actually stands for "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow!" As an adult, this is our favorite park. Admittedly, there's not an overwhelming amount for young kids here. Mid-2016, the new Frozen ride will be opening here, which will be a huge draw though. I wouldn't say skip this park altogether, but it could certainly be done in a half day for the kids. If the kids take a nap in the stroller, take a tour around the World Showcase- a recreation of 11 authentic villages from around the world, including Germany, Mexico, Norway, and more!

Hollywood Studios
A throwback to Old Hollywood (and some new Hollywood magic too!) This park is currently undergoing many changes in 2015-2016 (and possibly beyond), as it's being expanded to include a Toy Story world and a Star Wars world! At the moment, again, there's not a ton for young children. I'd even say you could skip it, if you're tight on time. Even for adults, it's a half day park at the moment.

Animal Kingdom
If your wee ones are animal lovers, this is a fantastic park! It's one of my favorites, and has a great mix of kid and adult-friendly rides. There's a few bigger thrill rides geared towards adults. There's a dinosaur-themed "carnival" area with games and rides for little ones. There's a live-show all about birds, a Finding Nemo musical (in an air-conditioned theatre!), and a Lion King mini-broadway style show (also air-conditioned!). And, of course, there's animals everywhere you go! From a safari ride, to long walkways with animal-viewing areas, to a large petting zoo area! The theming at the park is truly lovely.

Disney World with Young Kids
(photos from disneyworld.disney.go.com)

Disney Springs
Formerly known as "Downtown Disney," you'll find the best shopping around here! A store for everything, pretty much. And we can't forget the incredible restaurants here! Some of our favorite places (like Raglan Road!) can be found here. Make a day of it, to be sure. Not as crowded as the parks, so let the kids run around. If they fall asleep in the stroller, take the time to peruse the racks- most, if not all, of the stores are stroller-friendly. Or just take a stroll- Disney Springs is a big place, and some very pretty water views. Relax with a Starbucks or an adult beverage and take in the sights!

Disney's Boardwalk
You'll feel like you're on a real boardwalk by the ocean! Such great theming here, and some great eateries and small shops. Home to two of Disney's hotels and Disney Vacation Club resorts (timeshares), it's a great place to have a "down day" away from the hustle and bustle of the parks. It's nestled in-between Hollywood Studios and Epcot, and we always make time to pop in here! You can take a boat or walk here from either park, too!

Water Parks & Mini Golf
Disney has two water parks- Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. I've been going to Disney since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, and we've only been to the water parks once. They each have a "preschooler" geared area of play slides and activities, but I don't feel like my 3 yro has been quite ready for them yet. If you have a fish in your family though, it could definitely be worth a day!! Honestly, we've found the resort hotels to have great family-friendly pools too.
There are also two miniature golf courses, which could be great fun! I have yet to be to either of them, but largely only because there's SO much to do at Disney that I haven't wanted to sacrifice a day at the parks, hehe. There's Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens and Fairways, the latter of which also has a miniature scale 18-hole golf course too!

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