There’s something you need to know about me: I seriously love Disney.
This is a long time love that I’ve had since childhood— which I guess isn’t so abnormal, because what kid doesn’t like Disney? No kid I know.
You see, we were a “Disney family” growing up. You know how a lot of families go relax at the beach every year for spring or summer break??? We were not that family. Give us a big kiddie pool and Mickey Mouse and roller coasters and we were happy as could be! AND we actually lived in Florida for a portion of my childhood, so that close proximity just added to our love of all things sunny and happy and animated. So it figures, Disney has always been this nostalgic place to me that hasn’t lost an ounce of it’s magic even as I approach my late-twenties. Sad?? I say no!
So when our families decided to vacation in Orlando this Christmas, you know I was psyched (along with all my other twenty-something-year-old siblings). Time to experience the magic as adults!
On our first day, we decided to visit the Magic Kingdom— classic Disney at it’s finest. We spent the day going on all our old favorite rides, soaking in the beauty of Cinderella’s Castle, checking out all the new additions since our last visit (it’s been over ten years, so there were A LOT), and of course, eating some delicious Disney treats.
We just so happened to go during the busiest week of the year (the week between Christmas and New Year’s), so we geared up for the crowds and hoped for the best. Here are a few tips and tricks that helped us immensely during this busy time:
- Arrive at the parking lot at least 30 minutes before the park opens. Disney tends to let people in early, especially during busy weeks like this, so you’re bound to be walking into the park by 7:45 (if it opens at 8). Also, take the buses instead of the monorail and the ferry— the line moved SO much faster and got us to the park within minutes.
- Download the “My Disney Experience” App— it allows you to check current wait times for all the rides instantly
- Go on rides with short wait times right away (ex: It’s a Small World, Winnie the Pooh, The Little Mermaid, The Haunted Mansion, etc). We walked right onto these rides between 8-10 am, but their wait times grew to over 60 minutes later that day.
- Schedule your Fast Passes for the afternoon (the busiest time is between 1-5 pm) on popular rides like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain. We walked right onto these rides with our fast passes, even when the stand-by line was up to 120 minutes!
- Once you’ve used your 3 Fast Passes, find a Cast Member to get one additional fast pass.
Now onto the food! I was shocked to see how many vegan and vegetarian options Disney has added since the last time I was there. Here are some delicious options we ate at the Magic Kingdom:
- Mickey Soft Pretzels (vegan, pictured above)— we got ours at a food stand in Fronterland (right near Pecos Bill Cafe), but I hear they have them in Tomorrowland too
- Dole Whip (dairy free, pictured above)— this infamous frozen pineapple treat can be found in Adventureland at Aloha Isle
- Vegetarian Burritos, Fajitas, and Rice Bowls (vegan, gluten free options, pictured below)— Pecos Bill Tall Tale Cafe in Frontierland
My fiancé’s family also stumbled upon Magic Kingdom’s newest restaurant, Jungle Navigation Co’s Skipper Canteen (right near the Jungle Cruise) that is packed with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options like falafel, pho, curry, and hot and sour soup! I’ll definitely be hitting that place up next time!
If you are unsure if a certain restaurant has vegan or gluten free options, call ahead! Disney is super flexible and I’ve heard they’ll even create new dishes for special dietary needs 🙂
We ended our evening back at Cinderella’s Castle for the Frozen show, where Elsa literally “freezes” the castle and it SNOWS on Main Street (you can kind of see it in the picture below). Like actual snow (it definitely melted in my hand). This was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced at Disney because the special effects are SO well done. I was giddily smiling like a 5-year-old the whole. entire. time.
This show is also a perfect segway into the “Disney Dreams” Fireworks show (ours was around 8 pm), where the castle turns into a movie screen displaying an incredible montage of some of the best Disney movie moments, music, and of course, some seriously cool fireworks (because, Disney). Make sure you get there a little early (I would suggest between 7-7:15) to lock down a good viewing spot. Trust me, it’s well worth it since this show is SO COOL!
So that was our magical day at Disney! Stop back next week for details from our two days at Universal aka Harry Potter World!!!!