Day 13 – Animal Kingdom and being Married by Rafiki

We had a pretty short day in the parks today being as we go home tomorrow night and we needed to pack ๐Ÿ˜ฆย  So this will no doubt be quite a short blog ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

But we headed off to Animal Kingdom and it was so busy! I think the remnants of Irma had gone and flights had started coming back in so the crowds were picking up again.

Pandora this morning was insanely busy and even getting into it was near on impossible so we gave it a miss for now and decided to do all the other stuff first.

The rest of the park was pretty quiet compared to Pandora, it did seem like a lot of people were coming in to do that and not really visiting the rest of the park.

We got a return time for Kilimanjaro Safaris which we love and went off to use our fastpass for Everest. Our favourite ride here I think ๐Ÿ™‚ Amelia always insists that she sits on her own!! I love this picture of us on Everest, she’s loving it me and Paul look as if we’re in class about to answer a question or something!!

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As it was quiet we went on this 3 times in a row! Everest is such a fun ride and you get such a great view of the park when you’re going up the mountain, especially at night. If you look the other way I’ve seen you can see Epcot I think it is but I always forget to look!

We tried to get on Kali River Rapids but it was closed still after Irma so we didn’t get to do that. There was a massive tree down in Animal Kingdom due to the hurricane. Pretty much the only significant damage I had seen through the parks so far.

The safari was great, it’s one of the best things about Animal Kingdom, I love Hippos so that’s my favourite bit and seeing the Elephants at the water hole is always fun to see ๐Ÿ™‚ We didn’t get the time sadly to do the night safari so that’s something for the next trip.

We had lunch today in the Harambe Market, we were in the parks early so it was an early lunch. Animal Kingdom doesn’t have a large amount of choice for table service places to eat and a lot of the quick service looks a bit spicy and not really something we like to eat. So we struggle here. However Harambe Market was lovely. There are a few different windows serving the different dishes and we went for the Beef and Lamb Gyro flatbreads cos the looked the most plain thing there.

It was really really nice. I’d definitely eat there again.

I love the African part of Animal Kingdom the most. There’s a lovely atmosphere here and the street entertainers are great. Particularly the dancers who always get Amelia up with them, they did some kind of song and dance for me and Paul which is a wedding celebration. I got it all on camera so it will be up in a future vlog.

The best show at Animal Kingdom is by far Festival of The Lion King so we had to make sure we saw it before we had to go home.

I love this show. It’s ‘in the round’ so you can see wherever you sit (kind of a theme with the Disney shows all the theatres are like that). It’s not the story of the film but it has a lot of the songs in it and some of the characters. Again little miss has been picked on for this each time we’ve seen it and this time she was even more happy as she was the one who was chosen to interact with Timon today. (Again all on video). It’s a great show, the tumble monkeys are the highlight of it for me ๐Ÿ™‚ย  You do not need to use one of your fastpasses for this unless you want to sit right at the front. It’s a big theatre you’ll get in ๐Ÿ™‚

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Cautious of time we decided to head to Pandora to use the return time we had for Flight of Passage, we’ve talked about this ride the whole trip so we had to do it again. We also had a look at the Banshee rookery which seems to be the ‘big’ merchandise item for Pandora. They look pretty cool and the fact they move and make noise is fab but the harness on your shoulder doesn’t really stay straight and they are really expensive for what they are. I can honestly say I didn’t see many people with them. Amelia decided against getting one in the end, she’d saved enough money to get one, and got herself a little plush one instead that she loves and was much much cheaper!

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I wasn’t overly impressed with the merchandise there if I’m honest but I’m not the biggest fan of the movies.

I did have another Night Blossom though and we got some lovely shots in Pandora with the Photopass.

I hate saying goodbye to Disney and just as I was feeling sad coming out of Animal Kingdom I spotted characters. We missed Meeko but we did meet Rafiki and this was quite possibly my most memorable character meet and one of the highlights of the whole honeymoon.

Rafiki saw our ears and insisted on making us stand in front of him while he conducted a whole wedding ceremony – I’m so upset I didn’t get this on video – it was so fun and something that we weren’t expecting. Amelia loved it being made to stand and hold some imaginary flowers.ย He was such a great character and it made us laugh!!

We had such a great day at Animal Kingdom and it was the perfect way to end the day.

Sadly now it’s packing time ready for our flight home tomorrow but we are spending as much time in Epcot as we can first and we do have a character lunch booked too ๐Ÿ™‚

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Disneymoon Blog – Day 1 – Animal Kingdom, Armidillos and Oh Getting lost…

I was up at 4am this morning, unpacking and writing yesterdays blog and went off for a little adventure around the resort while everyone else was asleep being a good wife and getting drinks for when Paul and Amelia woke up.

Port Orleans is such a nice resort as I said yesterday, it has such a relaxed atmosphere and because it is a small resort it’s not crowded which is brilliant. (I’ll do a proper in full review of the resort and the room when I get home)

We had an 8:20 reservation for Tusker House this morning with EMH at Animal Kingdom from 8am. We got there just after 8am and it was packed. Labour Day weekend and obviously Pandora I think were the reasons for that. In all my visits I’ve never seen so many people running towards a park at that time of the morning. As we made our way to Tusker and passed Pandora that crowd did thin out. A Lot.

Tusker House is fab!! It’s a large restaurant so even though it seats a lot of people it doesnt feel too crowded. It’s worth remembering for those of you who aren’t staying on site that if you do have a dining reservation before the park opens that is a really good way to get in the parks. Although you won’t be able to get on anything until it does open for rides like Flight of Passage it would mean you can get in line early.

Food at Tusker is standard for a Breakfast Buffet although it does have a bit of an African twist with things like corned beef hash and curry for you to try. I have a sweet tooth and would highly recommend trying the Banana Bread pudding which was lovely. As is the specialty drink ‘Jungle Juice’ which they give you when you get to your table. I could drink that all day.ย  I don’t know what was in it but it was lovely and fruity.

We met 4 Characters, Donald obviously, Daisy, Goofy and Mickey.ย  I do love the character dining it’s a great way to meet the more popular ones without having to be in a line for ages.

Bellys full we headed off to get my DAS sorted on our Magic Bands which was as usual quick and easy from Guest Services.ย  Then off we went to visit Pandora. We had a fast pass for River Journey and it was pretty quiet which we found a little odd. Turned out none of the rides were running. We did have a little look around and Amelia was fascinated by the big plant that lights up when you touch it. I have to say from that little bit that we saw I was completely gobsmacked. It is stunning!! The theming, the ambience the whole lot of it is breathtaking.ย  I knew it was going to be incredible after seeing all the vlogs and pictures but honestly none of those do it justice at all.ย IMG_8114

With Pandora having issues we decided to head up to Kilimanjaro Safaris – I was a bit lame today with taking photos and mostly videoed instead so look out for those when we get home. We saw loads of animals on the safari including a baby elephant which was absolutely the cutest thing we saw all day.

We bumped into Tarzan on our travels which was fab as I’d not met him before ๐Ÿ™‚ I managed to embarass myself a little by tripping on my feet and very nearly grabbing his bum…

Off to Everest after that Amelia’s favourite, And a lot faster than I remember it being last time!! Then a quick visit to the river rapids which was lovely in the heat as it was incredibly muggy and hot yesterday.

Disability access for all the rides is so easy – I will go into all that a lot more when I get home – I know it’s something that is really important to know when you go somewhere like Disney.

We went back to Pandora for lunch and off to Satu’li Canteen one of the places I’d been most looking forward to eating in. Again the ambience is breathtaking in there!! Food was amazing, I recommend the beef but not with the grains which basically taste like plain brown rice, Paul went for the sweet potato hash which was lovely so that would be my choice for next time.

No pudding though cos we were full, instead we went and got a Night Blossom from Pongo Pongo. Which tastes like a twister in a glass ๐Ÿ™‚

Using my DAS we got a return time for Flight of Passage – a wait of 4 HOURS – and then went back to the hotel for a bit of time in the pool. And we managed to get back without getting lost!!

Bad news when we got back literally just as we got to the pool they closed it due to lightning so instead we went in the arcade which was so much fun.

Back to Animal Kingdom after refilling our resort mugs for the journey, it was chucking it down so it was nice walking in that everyone else was heading in the opposite direction.

Straight to River Journey as they let us keep the fast pass to use at any time as well as giving us an extra for something else too.

Just like Pandora itself River Journey is just stunning!! There is so much to look at as you go round. It really takes your breath away with the sounds smells and noises you hear as you travel slowly around. I decided not to take pictures on this on my first time round just so I could fully concentrate on what was going on and take it all in. Then off we went to Flight of Passage. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do this ride being that the restraints hold your feet forward and also come up to fasten you at your back – 2 things that for me with my condition looked like they would be a little problematic. So I ducked out ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Paul and Amelia went on it though and when they came off Paul explained everything to me about the ride vehicle and we decided that I would be able to go on so we decided to go back again another day, instead a lovely cast member who I’d been chatting to while I was waiting actually took us back round so we could all go on again then.

Flight of Passage there are literally no words to describe how amazing it is!! It uses similar technology to Soarin but much more state of the art. Not only do you see all the places you’re flying over on your banshee you smell them as well.ย  It’s that realistic that you almost forget that you’re on a ride and you do really feel a little worried you might fall off of things might hit you as you fly at them – I had to stop myself putting my hand up to shield myself from some of it!! Because of the incredibly realistic effects it is really really intense. I have strange fears and big waves/tidal waves and things like that do scare me there is a bit where you fly towards a huge wave and I think you fly through it as it crashed over you but I shut my eyes for that so I could be wrong!! ๐Ÿ™‚

It was dark when we got off so we were lucky enough to see Pandora at night with everything lit up. It’s beautiful!! You MUST go here at night and see how all the plants and walkways light up in the dark, if there is any place throughout Disney that showcases the talent of the imagineers this is it!! How they come up with the ideas to make these things so real I will never know!!

We did Dinosaur which is probably one of the fastest rides I’ve ever been on, I don’t remember it being that quick – maybe we’re just getting old and things seem a bit faster than they used to be – I was knackered getting off that you get thrown around that much!!

Then last fastpass of the day was Everest about half hour before park closing ๐Ÿ™‚ In the Dark with an AMAZING view of the park all lit up!! Highly recommened doing that at night ๐Ÿ™‚

Wandering out of the park we saw a little Armadillo which was highly entertaining for all the Brits around us!!

Then we left. To come back to the hotel which we found with no trouble earlier!! Took us an hour again in the dark!! Theme of this holiday is definitely getting lost in Disney!! I’m beginning to regret not getting a decent map or renting a sat nav!!

Off to Islands of Adventure today and Blue Man tonight, I wonder if we’ll get lost coming home.. stay tuned I shall update you tomorrow!!

Things to do in theme parks without being in a queue! MAGIC KINGDOM

Can this be true, there are things you can do in the theme-parks without being stuck in a queue for hours? Things you can do without having to plan your fast-passes a month in advance?

It is true!

Disney isn’t all about the big rides there’s so much fun to be had and so many classic attractions that you can experience without spending 4 hours in a queue.

Most first timers will go to the most popular things which is a shame as there is so much more Disney has to offer and you can spend your day doing so many of these if you know what they are!

There’s loads of things at Disney that I have yet to do and this trip I’m planning on doing them all.

So what can you do in the parks with little or no queue at all?

Lets start, as always, with MAGIC KINGDOM..

Starting at the entrance on Main Street and going clockwise around the park..

Sorcerers of The Magic Kingdom (which you can find more about in this blog Free things to do at Disney โ€“ Surely that canโ€™t be true? ) this is something you can do all over the parks with portals in most lands so a good way to pass some time and something fun for the gamers (and non gamers) in the family, plus you get FREE game cards each day and there isn’t much that’s free in Disney!!

Main Street houses different shows throughout the day with the Citizens of Main Street and the much loved Dapper Dans as well as the Move it Shake it dance party and the many different shows on the castle stage.

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There’s even a Barbers in Main Street where little ones can have their first hair cut (so can the big ones) and with a sprinkle of Fairy Dust…

Adventureland has the classic Enchanted Tiki Room (which I’ve not done yet! :0) an indoor animatronic musical revue, you also have Swiss Family Treehouse a walk-through actual tree house based on the Swiss Family Robinson movies. There’s a variation on Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom here too, the pirate themed A Pirates Adventure helping Jack Sparrow fight off his foes and find treasure around the land with a magic talisman and a pirate map. There’s more Pirate themed fun with Jacks Tutorial teaching kids (and adults) how to swash-buckle.

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Moving into Frontierland you’ve got the magical Country Bear Jamboree another musical animatronic revue and one of my favourites.

Tom Sawyer island is rarely busy, you takeย  a raft over to an island playground with caves and mazes. A great place to people watch and have a picnic ๐Ÿ™‚

Liberty Square has it’s riverboat (another attraction I’ve yet to try) which takes you over Americas rivers in a nice calm boat ride on an authentic paddle steamer. Here is also the home of the Hall of Presidents one of the most famous yet quietest rides at Disney. With a 2 part show all about the American Constitution featuring audio-animatronic’s of all of the US presidents, it might be a little boring for kids but it is really educational and I think a must-do.

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There’s a new show in Liberty Square too, Moments in History with the Muppets featuring Kermit and co telling stories of great American events in a way that only the Muppets can!

Fantasyland has loads to look at I could spend ages just walking around and taking it all in. Mickey’s Philharmagic is a fab show that I’ve never seen a big queue for. It’s a 3D journey through the music of Disney movies with Donald as your hapless guide. It’s one of my must do things in MK I love it ๐Ÿ™‚

Storybook Circus has a fun splash station for little ones themed like the Casey Jnr from Dumbo and entertainment throughout the day from The Royal Majesty Makers who do regal routines and watch out for ad hoc musical performances as well.

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Tomorrowland has quite a lot to do Carousel of Progress is one of the original rides in MK and has been open since 1975! It’s been updated a few times but it still has that nostalgic charm taking you on a journey of technology, you also have Stitch’s Great Escape which rarely has queues and of course the best thing in Tomorrowland the People Mover or Tomorrowland Transit Authority.

Monsters Inc laugh floor is a great show really interactive and funny and with hardly any queues. Don’t miss the Incredibles Super Dance Party either.

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As well as all this you have shopping, dining and characters all over the parks to keep you entertained.

So you see you can quite easily fill a day with things you don’t have to stand in line for for hours and hours ๐Ÿ™‚

If you have any other ideas of things to do then let me know ๐Ÿ™‚

Planning Your Trip – Where to Start -Where to sleep?

There are 3 main types of accommodation when you’re staying in Orlando (although I’m sure someone will mention something else) but these are the main ones us brits tend to use when we go.

On Site Resort Hotels

Off Site Hotels

Self Catering Villas

All have their benefits and it’ll be down to you and your budget and preferences to decide which is the best option for you. But I’ll give you a bit of information on each and the extras you get when staying on site that should hopefully make your decision a little easier.

Self Catering Villas

If there is a large group of you the self catering villas are a great cost effective way to stay in Orlando.

Most of these are in lovely gated communities and all come with their own pools, fully equipped kitchen, cable, spacious bedrooms and are really quite luxurious. I’ve stayed in villas a few times and they are really nice when there’s a family of you going. It’s like a home away from home and means you don’t have to eat out all the time. You can save a bit of money by going to a local Walmart and stocking up on food. They usually come with BBQ’s as well so that’s a really nice thing to be able to do with a whole family around the pool.

You can have the pools heated as well – which is usually at an extra cost. Bear that in mind if you’re going at a slightly cooler time of year – although that being said, none of it is particularly cool to us.

Price wise I’ve looked at some prices for a group of 10 and they’re from ยฃ1200 and up – obviously you pay more for more amenities. You can get all sorts of themed villas as well and there are plenty that are Disney themed if you search for them – if you’re not staying IN the magic this is the next best thing.

If you are in a villa you would need a car. Because these are in the gated communities there is less public transport links so you’d rely a lot on taxis. Having your own car is a must I would say if you’re using this type of accommodation.

The communities are really safe and secure with hardly any traffic, you’re usually given a code for the gates or a pass to allow you to enter so it’s not publicly accessible.

Some of these are built around lakes so you have some really lovely views outside and there are a lot of these villas on the golf resorts if there are any golfers in the family.

I remember there being a communal bigger pool on one of the resorts I stayed in and a kids play area as well but all these things will be listed when you choose a villa. Most will also have Wi-Fi now.

Looking at some of the villa locations the large majority seem to be in Kissimmee , which is where I stayed. I LOVE Kissimmee, it’s pretty central to all the parks and is about 20-25 minutes to each of them. There is also a lot to do in Kissimmee itself, loads of places to eat and it’s home of Old Town which is one of my absolute favourite places to visit when I’m in Orlando.

I couldn’t find my photos of my villa but these are a pretty good indication of a standard one. Google will throw up a good lot of great sites if you type in Cheap Orlando Villas.

Perks of a Villa: Privacy. Own Pool. Perfect for families. Secure. Lots of Space. Home Comforts.

Downsides: Lack of public transport links so a car is really a must.

Off Site Hotels

If you’re a small family or a couple or even going on your own then an Off Site Hotel would be the best option for you.

The large majority of hotels in the Orlando area are on International drive and most of those will provide free shuttle buses to all of the theme parks.

There are also quite a few in and around Kissimmee.

International Drive is a great location to stay in, there are public transport links all along it with the I-Ride Trolley and Lynx Buses.

You can get 14 nights in a budget hotel for around ยฃ300.

Most if not all hotels will have their own usually heated outdoor pool and free Wi-Fi. Rooms can be basic but if you’re not planning on spending much time in your hotel and it’s basically just a base to sleep then that doesn’t really matter.

There are some preferable locations for staying on I-Drive. If you want to be close to entertainment and things to do in the evening anything that is near Pointe Orlando or I-Drive 360 is a great place to stay. You’re within walking distance from many restaurants, shops, mini golf. Most rooms and hotels are pretty similar with the layout etc but they are much nicer than any budget hotel you would book here in the UK. Rooms are always clean, ice machines on most floors. Generally most rooms will have 2 double beds in them rather than the single ones we have.

I prefer the hotels to Villas myself. I think it feels more like a holiday when you’re not cooking your own food or doing your washing.

If you don’t want to drive or hire a car this is by far the best option.

Perks of an off site hotel: Cheaper. Good public transport links and free shuttles to the parks. Close to shops, restaurants and entertainment.

Downsides: Having to plan days around the public transport times if you’re not driving. Pools can be busy.

Resort Hotels

All 3 of the major theme park brands have either on site or very close hotels that have many unique offerings that you wouldn’t get when staying off site. Of course this is the most expensive way to stay in Orlando but it’s an amazing thing to do – even if you just experience it once (or twice).

Disney Resort Hotels

Of course Disney, being the biggest of all the resorts has the most choice when it comes to hotels and they do cater for every budget, from campsites to deluxe villas.

Campgrounds

Value Resort Hotels

Moderate Resort Hotels

Deluxe Resort Hotels

Deluxe Villas

There are also a few Select Deluxe Hotels that although are NOT owned by Disney they are on property and they also allow guests the Extra Magic Hours.

When staying on Disney Resorts all guests will benefit from Extra Magic Hours (EMH) meaning you can enter the parks an hour early (different parks on different days) or stay after closing. When we went during the summer months EMH for Magic Kingdom were midnight-2am on a weekend.

You also have free parking on resort which is a saving of $20 a day as well as use of all the inter-park transport buses, boats and the monorail.

When staying on Disney you also have the option of booking a Dining Plan which is great as it takes all the stress out of having to budget for the food you eat while you’re there. There are several different options with the Dining Plan and I will go into that on another post. There are certain times of year when it is offered free of charge when you book certain resorts. I love the idea of the free dining but looking at prices of food etc at Disney and having been before I think it’s actually only worth the money if you’re going to eat in some of the nicer restaurants every day. I have it for my upcoming trip so I’ll be able to comment more on that when I get back.

If you’re going with little ones some resorts also offer kids club and in-room babysitting.

All resorts have pools and the type of pool they have will vary dependent on the level of resort you go for.

Room Wise most of them look pretty similar its the recreation and food options that make the difference to the experience but all have that Disney Magic.

I stayed at All Star Music for my last trip and it really showed me what a difference it makes staying within Disney. The pools were great and the rooms were nice and clean, the only thing that let it down was the food court. There wasn’t a lot of choice and I felt like I was in Butlins. It wasn’t that clean at all and there was a bit of a lack of the Disney customer service that you would expect staying there. I was so looking forward to being told to ‘Have a Magical Day’ and ‘Welcome Home’ as you walk in which I’d been told happens when you stay on site but we didn’t get any of that ๐Ÿ˜ฆ There was a family of 9 of us and 2 of us had interconnecting rooms which was really useful when you have a tired little one and grandparents in the ajoining room, you can just open the door while she’s sleeping, and Nanny and Grandad can babysit while you have a meal out ๐Ÿ™‚ This next trip we’re staying at Caribbean Beach so I’ll be able to tell you if it does actually make much of a difference choosing a more expensive resort.

It’s worth pointing out that you can have packages with and without park tickets but if you want Dining you need to purchase your tickets through Disney.

Prices start from ยฃ1500 for a family of 4 for 14 nights – hotel only.

Perks of the on-site at Disney: Extra Magic Hours. Free Parking. Disney Dining.

Downsides: Expensive.

Universal Resort Hotels

Universal are adding more resorts and growing quite a lot with the addition of Volcano Bay this year.

Again they cater for every budget.

Prime Value Hotel

Preferred Hotels

Premier Hotels

Staying on all the Universal hotels you benefit from early entry to Wizarding World of Harry Potter letting you in a whole hour early so you can get most of it done before the park gets busy.

There is also again the free transportation to the parks.

Portofino Bay, Loews Pacific and Hard Rock hotels also include Unlimited Express Passes. Having a 1 night stay in these hotels can work out cheaper than buying the passes on the gate. They will give you one for the day you check in and one for the day you check out.

Rooms in each look pretty similar and general room amenities much like the Disney resorts don’t change much. It’s the recreation that makes the difference.

Again as with Disney you can purchase the rooms with and without the park tickets included. Express Passes are given regardless of if you have booked direct.

Universal hotels are best booked for 1 or 2 nights and the rest of your stay On I-Drive or at Disney a 14 night stay in Loews Royal pacific came in at ยฃ2500!

Perks of staying on site at Universal: Early Entry to Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Express Passes at selected hotels.

Downsides: Expensive.

Seaworld Resort Hotels

Although Seaworld don’t have any ‘on-resort’ hotels as such they do have some hotel partners with a few perks.

Partner Hotels near Seaworld.

You get quite a few benefits staying in these and each one will give you free Quik Queue tickets, free Seaworld Rescue tour, Early entry in the summer and complimentary transport to and from the park.

You’d also get discounts on food and merchandise.

I have stayed on one of the Seaworld resort hotels and they are really nice but there’s no difference really to staying in one of the other hotels from that particular chain in another location in Orlando if you’re not wanting the extra Seaworld Perks.

14 night stay is coming in at around ยฃ1500.

Perks of staying on site: Seasonal Early Entry, Complimentary Quik Queue, On Site food and merchandise discounts.

Downsides: No Seaworld ‘themeing’ as such and not actually ‘on site’. Expensive.

*ALL PRICES ARE BASED ON FAMILY OF 4, 2 ADULTS 2 CHILDREN TRAVELING BETWEEN 5TH-19TH MAY 2017 IN LOWEST PRICE HOTELS

Planning your Trip – Where to Start! – Buying Park Tickets

I realized that although I’ve given you loads of tips and info on what to do when you get to Orlando what I haven’t really touched on is how to plan from the beginning!! So let me give you some basic info about Orlando and what there is to do, there are still people out there who don’t realize that Walt Disney World is not just ‘the park with the castle’…..

Orlando is a 8/9 hour flight from the UK. My big tip with booking flights is to leave the UK as early as possible to get to Orlando late afternoon – you’re able to have a look about go out for some food and then go to bed at the same time as you would at home. I find this stops any jetlag you may suffer from. Coming home, always get the latest possible evening flight, giving you at least half the day to maybe visit your favourite park or do a bit of shopping..

Orlando has 3 main theme park resorts. Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, Seaworld Parks and Entertainment.

Walt Disney World (the clue is in the name, it is a WORLD) not just one park. Disney is made up of:

Magic Kingdom (the one with the Castle)

Epcot (the one with the Golf Ball)

Animal Kingdom (the one with the tree)

Hollywood Studios (the one that used to have the Hat…)

Blizzard Beach

Typhoon Lagoon

Disney Springs

Disneys Boardwalk

ESPN World Wide of Sports

Disney Resort Hotels

Universal Orlando Resort is made up of:

Universal Studios (including Diagon Alley of Wizarding World of Harry Potter)

Universal’s Islands of Adventure (including Hogsmeade and Hogwarts of Wizarding World of Harry Potter)

Volcano Bay

Citywalk

Universal Resort Hotels

Seaworld Parks and Entertainment is made up of:

Seaworld

Aquatica

Busch Gardens

Discovery Cove

Most of the parks are in Orlando with the exception of Busch Gardens which is just over an hour away on the west coast in Tampa.

All the tickets that we can purchase in the UK are valid for unlimited access for 14 days, and on first trips people always say ‘but I won’t need 14 days’ – you will!! Buying your tickets in the UK before you travel is a lot cheaper than purchasing them on the gate in Orlando. The 14 day tickets are not available once you get there. With these tickets you’re able to ‘hop’ between the parks meaning you can visit more than one in a day if you like and Disney parks tend to stay open late. It gives you the flexibility to be able to see the evening shows at Disney but spend a day somewhere else if you wanted. ‘Hopping’ at Universal will include the use of the Hogwarts Express which transports you between the Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter. All 14 day tickets for the Seaworld Parks will include complimentary bus travel to Busch Gardens.

The only park that you cannot visit multiple times is Discovery Cove. This is a one day experience where you can swim with Dolphins if you wish. This is a fully all inclusive day with all your food and drink (including alcohol) included. You have to book a date for this as it gets booked up quickly and prices vary throughout the year. All the Discovery Cove tickets include unlimited access to Seaworld and Aquatica, there is an Ultimate package which will also include Busch Gardens.

Are there any waterparks included?

Yes. Disney has Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, Universal has Volcano Bay when it opens and Aquatica is Seaworlds offering.

What Parks Shall I Visit?

If you’re unsure what parks you want to visit my advice to you is to use YouTube to watch some holiday planning videos that show you what there is at each of the parks.

Think about who there is in your party and what would be of interest to them.

Surely I won’t need 14 day tickets?

You may not think you do and you may think that buying a smaller amount of days will save you money. That all depends on what parks you want to see.

If you want to visit all the parks at Disney including the Water Parks you will need at least 9 days! The 14 day tickets include water parks and park hopping. On the gate you’d pay $60 for each of the water parks and around $120 per day for each of the theme parks, plus an extra $55 to park hop. And don’t forget the 6% sales tax you have to add as well.

If you want to see all of Universal then as of June you’d probably need 4 days. One for each of the theme parks, one to hop between the 2 and see things you might not have on the other days and then a whole extra day (maybe 2 it looks HUGE) for Volcano Bay. Again the 14 day tickets are much more cost effective than buying 3 days on the gate and including the hopping.

Seaworld, Aquatica, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove you could spend a day in each and see everything. One day in each of the parks (with the exception of Discovery Cove) is around $70 (plus the sales tax). If you want to visit one more than once or all of them then again the 14 day tickets work out best.

Ticket Types

In the UK you are able to buy the 14 day tickets that I mentioned. There are many ticket sellers in the UK who provide these at a lesser cost than travel agents and usually the parks directly.

It is really important to check that whoever you buy from is providing you with real gate ready tickets. This means that when you get to the parks you are able to go straight in. Some travel agents will provide you with vouchers which you would need to exchange when you get there, meaning you have to queue for them BEFORE you get in the queue to get in.

You will also need your ticket numbers to be able to book your Disney FastPasses, although these numbers can be given to you by your travel agent 30 days before you travel this isn’t automatic and you may find yourself chasing them for it and missing out on booking some of the rides you want to do.

There are a number of resellers in the UK who send real tickets and will have offers on throughout the year.ย  There are links to some of those in the useful links page.

Most of these are Orlando experts and will give great advice.

Most will allow you to secure the current prices with a small deposit and will give up to 6 weeks before you leave to pay the balance.

The tickets all have the same names with the sellers:

Disney Ultimate

Universal Explorer

Seaworld 3 park

Discovery Cove Standard ticket and Discovery Cove Ultimate ticket.

All the resellers above do combination ticket packages which works out better than purchasing them individually.ย  They will all have different names but they will include the same tickets within them. Each of the tickets will have 14 days on it from the first day of activation so if you’re going for longer than 14 days you are able to stagger that so you can visit parks for the whole duration of your trip.

You cannot buy a combination ticket to include Discovery Cove. This is a stand alone ticket and will include your entry to the other parks owned by Seaworld.

Do they offer discounted tickets for Disabled or free carer tickets?

No. And the reason for this is that 90% of the rides and attractions are fully accessible. Universal do a small discount on the gate but this is for day tickets only and it the saving is minimal. There is a system in place for guests with disabilities. I go intoย  much more detail here – Disney with Disabilities

What’s included in my ticket?

All the tickets above will include unlimited park hopping access to all the parks owned by that company.

Disney tickets also include Disneys Fastpass which allows you to skip the line at some of the key attractions by being able to book your time on the ride 30 days before you go (60 if you’re staying on site). It gives you 3 fast passes per person per day which you can book on your My Disney Experience (MDE) account. The app for this gives you all the current wait times for rides so by looking at it a bit before you go you’re able to figure out what rides you would need to book for. Peter Pans Flight always has a really long line, as does Soarin’, some of the character meets will have a long wait you can book some of them too.

Currently the UK tickets also include Disney Memory Maker (or photopass) free of charge. This is ALL of your professional photos taken around the parks, ride photos (and videos for the ones that have them), character photos and all the ones in the scenic places around the parks. These are all digital photos that are uploaded to your MDE account when the photographer scans your ticket. You can then download them all when you get home and get them printed off when you like. I found when I did mine that if you leave them in your shopping basket with some of these companies they start to send you discount codes so you will buy them. Photobox is what I used for my 2000 odd when I came home. It’s a great thing to have with the tickets it’s worth $170.

Disney tickets also include mini golf free every day (before 4pm) there are 2 mini golf courses on Disney, Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens and they’re so much fun. Nothing like the boring golf we have here.

You can also use the Oak Trail golf course if you want a ‘normal’ round of golf. Tickets include a round and club hire.

Universal tickets include park hopping as well – this means you can use the Hogwarts Express to travel between the 2 Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter.

Seaworld tickets currently include free parking if you’re purchasing a ticket to include all 3 parks and you do get the free transportation to Busch Gardens as well if you don’t fancy the drive.

Can I skip the lines?

Yes you can.

Disney’s Fastpass is free and included in the tickets.

Universal have their own called an Express Pass which you can only buy from them directly. It’s more cost effective to buy a 1-day 2- park Express meaning you can do all the rides in both the parks in one day. With an Express Pass it’s easy to do that. The UK based booking site has them and they vary season to season – these tickets allow you one ride on each of the rides that day. You can get unlimited ones on the gate. Some of the hotels on the Universal Resort include free express passes and early entry to Harry Potter.

Seaworld and Busch Gardens have a ‘QuikQueue’ ticket which is the same sort of thing. All the re-sellers I mentioned sell an unlimited one which gives you as many rides as you like on each of the rides. This varies in price by park and season.

None of the waterparks have fastpasses. Volcano Bay however has a virtual queuing system using a wristband called ‘TapuTapu’ which allows you to select the ride and time you want and will vibrate when you can get on, meaning you can do other things while you’re waiting.

Hopefully that should answer most of the questions you have about tickets. If there’s anything else you want to know or I’ve missed let me know.