“Where dreams come true.” That’s the message of inspiration and wonder which greets as you’re about to enter the magical fantasy land that is Walt Disney World Orlando! Last November, as we were in the early stages of planning our first ever Florida trip, I personally asked Summer of Visit Florida if she could also help us arrange an itinerary in Disneyland. She told me it’s not Disneyland but Disney World! I had never been to the USA so I didn’t know the difference – Disney World is the biggest and it only exists in FLORIDA, with 4 different parks while Disneyland, although the original (built in 1955), is a smaller Disney park in CALIFORNIA.
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© Disney (All images provided by and property of Walt Disney Studios, unless stated otherwise)
When I told Jonathan that we were actually going to Disney World, he was excited to go as an adult. He had been there when he was 13 years old with his family and even visited Disneyland, Paris when he was in university. For me, it’s been my childhood dream forever and I was so happy to finally have the chance experience it at the age of 27!
Why a young couple should go to Disney World?
To rediscover your inner child! Despite what people might think, Disney World is not only for children and families. We saw a lot of young couples enjoying the rides and the shows, particularly in EPCOT. It’s an exciting, fun place to go together – adventure rides, food trips, discovering which roller coasters make each other scream the most and maybe even reminiscing over your childhoods together!
“A WORLD OF MAGIC AND ADVENTURES FOR EVERYONE”
That’s how Disney describes the four vastly different theme parks at Disney World Orlando, plus two sun-splashed water parks, two themed miniature golf courses and hundreds of dining and shopping options which you could find at Walt Disney World Resort.
Before I share with you our most favourite rides and tips on how you can maximize your time exploring Disney World, I’m going to talk about the 4 main theme parks in Disney World Orlando: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
Where the magic begins! This is Disney’s world of fantasy and magic, brought to life in six different worlds of fun and adventure – Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland!
Disney World Orlando – Magic Kingdom (Photo by Two Monkeys Travel)
- Meet Disney royalty at the Princess Fairy Tale Hall
- Join in the comedy with Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
- Fly through the stars at light speed on Space Mountain!
- Be amazed at the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade
End your night with an explosion of colour and sound, as fireworks, lasers and music come together in an inspiring crescendo in the night sky over EPCOT in the nightly IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth show over the World Showcase Lagoon. It’s the perfect way to end your amazing day exploring Disney World!
- Meet Mickey and of Disney characters at Epcot’s Character Spot
- Fly over different natural vistas on Soarin’
- Around the World tour inside the EPCOT ball – different country features
- The annual Food and Wine Event is a great culinary festival for younger and older visitors!
“Reach new heights of excitement as you explore the wilds of Disney”. If you love animals, jungles and nature then you must visit Animal Kingdom!”
Around 1700 animals, from 250 species that call this 500 acre park home and there are many different world habitats to explore, including The Oasis, Wild Africa, Pangani Forest, DinoLand and Discovery Island, plus loads more.
- Go tiger spotting on the Maharajah Jungle Trek
- Get a sneak peek behind the scenes of Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
- Look out for silverback gorillas on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
- Become an archaeologist at The Boneyard dig site
- Journey through a 110 acre African safari in a real safari vehicle in Kilimanjaro Safaris
- For a real jungle safari adventure experience, join a Wild Africa Trek.
Disney Hollywood Studios
“Action and animation. Glitz and glamour. Thrill to Hollywood at its best.” The first thing I read on the fliers being giving out for Hollywood Studios!
It’s like stepping back in time to the glory days of Hollywood, with exhilarating shows and rides based on blockbuster movies, television music and theatre.Disney World Orlando – Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Picture – Two Monkeys Travel)
- Watch Indiana Jones and Marion perform dangerous stunts with incredible special effects and a little touch of comedy at the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular show.
- Classic Disney fantasy at its best, with Beauty and the Beast played out live on stage.
- Breathtaking stunts and driving sequences, cars flying through the air, explosions and crashes in Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. Lightning McQueen of Disney Pixar’s Cars even joins in the show!
The 7 Best Rides for Adults that You Should Not Miss
What are the best rides for adults to enjoy in Disney World in one day? We didn’t go to Animal Kingdom, but we will next time, so here are our tips for Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom and EPCOT.
1. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood Studios
This Aerosmith-themed roller coaster is an insane limousine joyride through the freeways of Los Angeles, flying upside down sideways, head over heels and every which way in between, all to the classic rockin’ tunes of Aerosmith!
This haunted elevator with a terrifying secret takes you on a shocking ride through the Twilight Zone and beyond. This is our favourite ride in the park, so don’t miss it!
The best roller coaster in Magic Kingdom, it was my Jonathan’s favourite in 1996 and it’s still his favourite today! Flashing lights, warp speed take offs to pin you to your seat and an all-out thrill ride through the pitch black and bright lights of space!
This rickety runaway train takes you on an exhilarating gold rush ride through a gold-mining town on a runaway train, in and out of tunnels and over rocky mountains!
Another old favourite, Splash Mountain is a log flume water ride, with steep climbs, fast falls and a good dose of water, all to characters and music from “Song of the South.” Be prepared to get wet!
This hang gliding themed ride takes you over some of the most breath-taking views California has to offer, like the Golden State Bridge, redwood forests, cresting waves, fine-powdered ski slopes and fragrant orange groves – All recreated in spectacular fashion, 40 feet in the air, surrounded by a 180-degree IMAX dome!
7. Mission SPACE, Future World East, EPCOT
A mission to the Red Planet! Not for the faint of heart, or stomach, this is a super-realistic simulation of a space shuttle take off, loop around the moon and final landing on Mars itself. The combination of simulation, audio and visual effect, plus the sensory deprivation of the ‘capsule’ create an amazing feeling of exhilaration and even disorientation. This ride is just too intense to photograph!
This 4D moving shooting game takes you through Andy’s bedroom with five games to test your skills to the theme of all the Toy Story characters. For kids and grown up kids of all sizes!
Tips to Maximize your Disney World Orlando Experience on a 1-day Parkhopper Pass
1. Plan your route
Exploring 4 parks in a day would be really exhausting and probably counter-productive, so we decided to choose 3 in order to maximize our experience! (and to give ourselves another excuse to come back one day!)
Here’s how we did it:
We started our day early and left our hotel, the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, at 7:30 AM to Magic Kingdom. If you’re staying at this hotel then they have free coach shuttle services to all of the Disney World Orlando theme parks! Actually, another tip is to leave the hotel at 7:00 AM and catch the shuttle ride to Magic Kingdom in time to watch the opening parade of all the Disney characters! We missed it by only 15 minutes!
There are some parks that are open until 1AM, so you really have decide which one to visit last. In our case, we decided to explore Magic Kingdom until midday with all the rides we wanted to experience, then we took a Disney shuttle bus to Hollywood Studios where we explored until 4:30 PM, watching all the shows we wanted to see and riding all the awesome rides we wanted to try! After that, we took another shuttle to EPCOT to wrap up our day – took 2 rides and spent most of our time walking around EPCOT experiencing the different Nations presentations and shows! We wrapped up our night with the EPCOT IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth show over the World Showcase Lagoon. If you’re staying in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, then you can also see the fireworks from the hotel! Be prepared to walk a lot, but it’s all worth it!
2. Avoid the Long Lines – Download the FREE My Disney Experience Mobile App
Once you’ve got your Magic Your Ways Tickets (that’s what the tickets are called!), you can reserve access to select Disney Fastpass+ attractions online. You book it online before you arrive at the park and can make changes on the go at any of the Fastpass stations around the parks!
You first need to download the app, then you can use up to 3 initial Fast Passes for any attractions, Disney Character Experiences and live shows! Then after your 3 rides, you can go to any Fastpass kiosk and you choose a new Fastpass ride, one at a time after you finish each ride. It’s very easy to use, but you have to choose smartly and plan your time and the rides that you want to take (Our recommended rides are above!)
Best of all, it’s FREE!!!
3. Use the Single Rider Lane
If you’ve used all of your Fast passes, then go to the Single Rider Lane. I know some couple don’t want to be separated from their partners, but this strategy will get you through the long lines much faster, as you’ll be just be fitted into empty slots in each ride car, making everything faster for you. That way, you get to share your stories afterwards! It’s fast and convenient!
4. Don’t bring a car, take the Disney Transportation and hotel shuttles
There are FREE Disney buses and trams, just make sure you have a Park Hopper ticket. It’s faster and it will save you lots of money on parking fees, plus help the environment. Not to mention that the car parks are vast, so losing your car is a real possibility!
5. Bring your own food and water
I love Disney World, but the meals were really expensive! The food, drinks and snacks inside the parks are great and we had a couple of meals there, but if you’re going to be out all day, then you may want to bring something with you, so you don’t have to buy all of your meals there. If you are going to have a meal in the parks, we highly recommended having it in EPCOT, in the Nations area. We had an amazing Japanese meal and it was some of the best we’ve ever had!
6. Check the show schedule and don’t miss it!
When you arrive at the park, don’t forget to pick up your TIMES GUIDE to get additional information. It changes every week so you really have to get it to know the Special Hours of the Rides, Night time Spectaculars, Character appearances and even special events and shows for that week! Knowing that will give you a foundation to plan the rest of your day around.
7. Enjoy the Complimentary WIFI!
Yes, FREE Wi-Fi in most areas and even the parking lot so you can easily take photos and share it to your social media profiles, Don’t spend too long on there though, the real fun is all around you!
Some of the information above is from the official Disney World website, so is subject to change. Our entrance tickets were complimentary, courtesy of Disney World Orlando, but all opinions are our own.
Note: This trip wouldn’t have been possible without the help and support of Visit Orlando for our itinerary in Orlando, Visit Florida, the official tourism office of Florida in Tallahassee and especially Ms. Summer Gilhousen, who arranged the whole trip and coordinated with all the local tourism boards, private companies for our sponsored hotel stays, tours and car rental. Thank you!
Thank you to everyone we met along the way who all helped to make this such a special experience. It was an incredible first visit to the USA and I will never forget it!