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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Our Top 5 "Hidden in Plain Sight" Locations of Walt Disney World


by: guide4wdw - Collin

Our Top 5 "Hidden in Plain Sight" Locations of Walt Disney World 

A few short days ago I was talking with a reader that mentioned a certain area of Epcot that they felt was entirely underrated and a "hidden gem" of sorts of the Walt Disney World experience. To me, this seemingly simple moment of discovering a "hidden gem" spot during a WDW trip is something that is a bit hard to describe. 

As you travel through the parks, occasionally you'll come across a spot that just clicks with you and is something you really enjoy for a shockingly trivial reason. To me, that moment and type of location is oh so often found in the simplest of experiences in the most trivial moments of the vacation experience. For instance, you wont find an attraction on my list in the generic sense of the term but at the same time you may find little tucked away areas of the parks and resorts that many entirely overlook. They're not big, exciting locations, but sometimes there's beauty in true to life simplicity. A moment sitting on a bench away from the crowds or simply away from the attractions can open up a world of possibilities. Sometimes it frees your thoughts and allows you to escape, even to a greater sense than the parks do on a daily basis for many of us.

If you're one of those people that goes all out and does nothing but jump from attraction to attraction your entire trip, truthfully this list may not be for you. But, for the rest of you, keep reading and you may discover a little area to uncover during your next Walt Disney World trip. If that sounds like a good plan, keep reading and we'll share a few of what we consider "Hidden in Plain Site" locations in the parks.

1. Swiss Family Treehouse 

For years, if I'm completely honest, I looked at the Swiss Family Treehouse as nothing more than a lot of stairs and that's certainly a regret of mine, but at the same time a blessing in disguise. On a relatively recent trip, heavy crowds forced us to think outside of the box and take the time to enjoy a few of the simpler aspects and attractions of Magic Kingdom. In doing so, I convinced myself to give the treehouse another chance and I'm glad I did. As you embark in climbing the multitude of stairs leading to the top, you're greeted by some of the most spectacular and vastly overlooked views in all of Magic Kingdom. From your vantage point high in the tree, you can see Space Mountain clearly in the distance and can witness Adventureland from an entirely new perspective. 

If you're lucky enough to have a few minutes at night, the views are improved upon and changed in a unique way in the dimly lit light of the staircases and classic lamps of the structures that make up this impressive treehouse structure.        

2. The Gardens of the Japan Pavilion

Once again, this garden is a bit tucked away and out of sight of the average guest. Over in the Japan Pavilion of the World Showcase, a little garden welcomes guests into a sensory experience of wonderful smells and the gentle sounds of water flowing over rocks and through little streams slightly elevated above the World Showcase promenade near Katsura grill. 

If you've not taken the time to at least quickly wander through the garden, it's worth a few minutes or even potentially longer to enjoy a moment of true simplicity and beauty in the classic nature of the situation Imagineering so expertly developed. It's culturally representative of Japan but at the same time features that uniquely "Disney" touch that makes all the difference in setting the scene for a memorable moment in the parks.     

3. The Canada Pavilion Waterfalls and Gardens

The Canada Pavilion is, in my opinion, the most overlooked and glanced past pavilion in all of Epcot. If you ever take a moment to watch guests at this point in the World Showcase, you'll typically see them glance up at the pavilion and keep on walking. Honestly, that's a huge mistake. The Canada pavilion is far more diverse and far more unique than most guests give it credit for. As you walk up the stairs and head towards the back of the pavilion you'll find a small staircase that leads towards a large waterfall. If you walk right up near the waterfall you'll find a small path leading the way to the gardens of the pavilion that open up to the area near the entrance to Le Cellier steakhouse (a must-do if you've never tried it!). Shockingly, the area is very peaceful and is also a great place to catch a glimpse of Illuminations from a new perspective. You will miss out on some of the low level fireworks, but the atmosphere is, in many cases, worth the trade off.      

4. East Center Street 

Much like the Carolwood Room mentioned below, East Center street is a place where you can sit back and escape the crowds for just a few minutes while enjoying a bit of Disney history hidden in plain site. For example, a select few of the unique historical elements you can find here are: 
Magic Kingdom is a treasure trove of Disney history but East Center Street is unique in that many guests walk past it day after day and trip after trip without any recognition or recollection of what it is or may hold. Don't get me wrong, in essence East Center Street is a narrow street jutting east about half way down Main Street USA across from the Emporium. The street itself literally goes nowhere and simply ends after about 15-20 yards, but it's clever seating area and hidden touches create a great "escape" from the park. You can sit back on a bench or small table and listen to the sounds of Main Street, the singing lessons hidden in the cracked window above, and watch the guests hustle and bustle around Main Street.

It is, without a doubt, a simple pleasure of the Main Street experience but one that can be enjoyed in just a few minutes or you can sit back and relax for hours on end. If you can spare the time, this could be an incredibly good place off the beaten path in the parks to think and take a step back from the troubles of the world for even a brief moment.    

5. The Carolwood Room 

If you've been following along with the site for a while you likely know how much I enjoy this simple piece of the magic. Tucked away over at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, this vastly overlooked little room unveils the real history of Walt Disney's train obsession that often culminated into larger than life theme park steam engine iterations. It was no secret that Walt loved steam engines and Walt's Carolwood estate was perhaps the most striking example of that larger than life love of a hobby that we can still appreciate today. Walt's Carolwood estate was perhaps one of his most unique projects. Around the home, Walt built an incredibly elaborate miniature railroad and this little room in the heart of the Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge is a tribute to that hobby of the man who started it all. 

The Carolwood room is cleverly placed out of site of most guests. As you enter Wilderness Lodge head out the right exit near the gift shop and follow the path down to the Villa lobby area. As soon as you enter the door head to your right and you'll be in the heart of this classic room. I wont go into vast detail because I did that in our article - Outstanding Disney History Hiding in Plain Sight: The Carolwood Room. However, this little room is an incredible place to escape for a few brief moments. There's a beautiful fireplace, big comfy chairs, and you're steps away from one of the most incredible views of Bay Lake you'll find anywhere on property! Don't forget to stop by Geyser Point for a great cheeseburger and an even better atmosphere.  

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are! 

Ready to Plan?

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter or Riverside? - A Closer Look

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter or Riverside? - "A Closer Look"

Today's topic is one that pops up almost weekly on social media and one that I even get asked directly from time to time and typically give the same answer. However, what I choose is oftentimes what works for me and the people I travel with and may vary from what is best for you. So, today I'm going try and hold off on a final "verdict" until the very end of the article as to not try and sway you one way or the other without first considering a variety of factors.

Honestly, in the realm of moderate tier resorts at Walt Disney World, Port Orleans is one of the most overlooked properties in my opinion. The property is excellent, and while there are  a few slight qualms to the overall guest experience that set it apart from feeling quite like deluxe resort (for obvious reasons), I like to put these two properties in what I like to call a "moderate+" category. It's a term that is completely and utterly made up, but at the same time I see incredibly fitting for the property as a whole. Both sections of the overall resort area bring a lot to the table in the areas of dining offerings, transportation, and even resort recreation. On top of that, the layout lends itself to a better guest experience in comparison to some of the other moderate tier accommodations. 

(Pictured: Riverside - Photo: Disney)

In my option, there is no one best resort for each guest or family traveling to the parks. It's an impossible task to try and peg that ultimate "one stop shop resort" that is going to have everything that meets your needs. Price is inevitably going to be a big factor for many guests, and Port Orleans as a whole falls into what I would call the "affordable" category at around $200-$250 per night currently. It's not a budget buster for a majority of guests, but at the same time it's not going to be quite as budget friendly as the value tier in most cases. At the same time though, if you book it on a bounceback offer as we mentioned in our Disney World Discount - How We Saved 27% With One Phone Call article, it may fall in price to the point where it may work out for even the tightest of budgets.

If you're looking at both resorts from a cost standpoint and trying to choose one that way, you're typically only going to save a few dollars and the resort that typically remains cheaper is almost always a toss up. Personally, I've seen French Quarter listed at a more budget friendly rate recently when their is not a big discount offer available.

For example, consider the discount currently available for Summer 2018. If you book a room for July 22nd the cost is $252.00 for Riverside and $252.90 for French Quarter. There's very little difference in price but our friends over at Destinations to Travel could weigh the options for your particular dates. As always, you'll find a quote request form for them at the bottom of the page and thanks for supporting those who help support us.  

If you are considering staying at one of these two resorts, here's what I recommend you consider before price, mostly because price tends to be a fairly negligible difference. I will pick a winner for each category simply to give an idea of why I prefer one over the other for each category.

Theming- My Pick - Port Orleans Riverside

Truth be told, I literally just typed French Quarter, then deleted it and wrote in Riverside. This one really is a bit of a toss up, but I'll tell you the one main reason I chose Port Orleans Riverside for theming. When you walk in that resort and out of the main lobby to the waterfront area with the big mill wheel rotating and the water glistening with the reflection of the main building, it's one of the few moments out of all the moderate resorts that makes you step back and think "wow, that's incredible." Sure, you have similar moments as you walk out to the main pool of Caribbean Beach, and maybe even walking past one of the towering statues at a value resort like Pop Century, but this is different. That "wow" moment  is developed by an incredibly subtle yet largely classic and inspiring elegance that really sets the stage for the resort experience.

As guests, we all tend to talk about this "transformative experience" we get to enjoy at Disney. The parks transform your state of mind and put you into your favorite film, or even into a location that you've always dreamed of visiting, and for a brief moment you're there! Sure, you're not in New Orleans, but for many of us it's about as close as we may come and even if it's not a perfect iteration of the original, it's an excellent ambiance nonetheless.

To me, the edge goes to Riverside for that view in it's entirety, because in all reality, the two resorts are quite similar in regard to the resort room interiors. Riverside rooms are bit brighter with lighter wood accents and slightly different decor but the furnishings and set up are near identical with one main exception. At Port Orleans Riverside, you do get a child size pull down bed in non-royal rooms. It's a nice bonus to squeeze another person into a room that would typically only accommodate four guests.

Port Orleans Riverside does offer, as mentioned, what are called royal rooms. The rooms themselves are different in that they feature touches of princess decor and a more elaborate theming than other rooms on the property. It kind of feels like a toned down version of staying in Cinderellas Castle, albeit a much less luxurious version. It is a fun option for kids or those of us who are kids at heart, but to me it seems like a bit much and is quite difficult to justify the $30-$70 increase in nightly pricing.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with French Quarters theming, and the lobby of the resort is quite impressive as well, but in many ways the "wow factor" is more subdued, but for what it lacks slightly in "wow factor" of design, it more than makes up for in "wow factor" for beignets! More on that later!      

Transportation- My Pick - French Quarter (marginally)

Transportation is impossible to pick a "winner" for a few reasons. First, they share busses sometimes and either way you're going to be riding a bus to all four parks. However, what's nice about French Quarter is that the bus stop is literally a few steps away from the main lobby and dining location Floatworks. Due to the smaller size of the property at French Quarter, a majority of rooms will be a shorter walk to the bus. It isn't a make or break difference, but even a few steps could make a difference. Additionally, both resorts offer boat transportation to Disney Springs which is an excellent option for guests looking for a greater variety of shopping and dining offerings without having to ride yet another bus. French Quarter is the shorter boat ride to Disney Springs by about 7-10 minutes, but either way it's a pretty relaxed and enjoyable ride to Disney Springs with some incredible views along the way. 

Port Orleans boat dock

Be aware, these are boats that are a fair amount smaller than the Friendship boats over in the Epcot resort area, and also a different style than the boats of the Magic Kingdom resort area. I've never heard a reason why, but this watercraft transportation uses a pontoon-esque boat to transport guests. For most, it makes very little difference, but as you sit still at the docks, the rocking motion of the boat when it is not in movement is a bit more noticeable.           

Size- My Pick - French Quarter (without a doubt) 

This is and was the deciding factor for us time and time again. Port Orleans French Quarter features just over 1,000 guest rooms. Riverside is home to well over 2,000 guests rooms. That variation in and of itself makes a huge difference in the scale of the resort. In turn, Riverside is much more spread out. It's not quite as spread out as Caribbean Beach or Coronado Springs, but it is a noticeably longer walk from various points of Riverside to common areas and the main pool when compared to French Quarter.

For our vacations, that makes all the difference. We're known for running to the resort food area to grab a snack on the way back to the room at night or to catch a meal by the pool and the convenience factor really starts to come into play if you plan on using the common areas of the resort to their full extent. If you're just going to the parks and not spending much time at the resort, I wouldn't worry about this too much because it may not effect you all that much in the end result.

Dining- My Pick - French Quarter 

Some of you may find this a bit odd, but I vastly prefer the food at French Quarter compared to Riverside. In all fairness, Floatworks at French quarter is perhaps my favorite counter service restaurant on property for a few reasons. First and foremost, they offer large meals at reasonable prices by Disney standards. The menu is massive and with 5 different "shops," each featuring a different set of food offerings, it's hard to go wrong. Between the Po' Boy shop with it's catfish and shrimp sandwiches to the carving shop with an array of meats, chickens, and even a create your own option it's truly a must do for us on nearly any vacation.

Perhaps the kicker to it all is the Beignets. These little fluffy pillows have an almost donut like consistency to them with a slight crossover flavor to the funnel cake world. It's a French Quarter icon of Walt Disney World and genuinely near the top of my must-try desserts list for prospective guests.

Beyond the food itself, French Quarter's food court area is a bit more quaint in nature and seems more open and welcoming in my opinion. There's nothing wrong with the Riverside Food Court and it is quite a bit better than some food courts on property but it is rather large and when it is crowded it's an entirely different atmosphere than Floatworks.

Beignets at French Quarter WDW

On the other hand, the location's size could work in your favor when looking for a table, but in my experience that is sort of a non-issue. As far as Table service goes, there is only one table service option and that is over at Port Orleans Riverside and is Boatwright's Dining Hall. Truthfully I've never taken the time to go over there and try it out. I have heard good things about the food offered and the quality of the experience, but to me it seems like a place I'd go on a rainy day if I didn't want to leave the resort. It's not particularly special, but not bad in any regard. The atmosphere is pretty unique but it's not something that will blow you away. All things considered, if table service is a big thing for you, jump on a boat and ride to Disney Springs for a larger variety of offerings and this becomes sort of a non-factor for most guests.

Perhaps one of the most iconic experiences in all of Walt Disney World is housed over at Riverside, Yehaa Bob. His performances at the River Roost lounge have become a truly hidden gem of the Port Orleans Riverside experience and are something I've been trying to make time for during our next trip. His piano and singing performance gets the audience involved in a show that is unlike any other. Just be aware that he is not there every night so be sure to check before making the journey over or planning a night for the show.                  

Pools- My Pick - Riverside 

Riverside's pool takes the win here for a few reasons. First, it's larger. Second, it's more elaborately themed. Third, the French Quarter Pool feels a bit outdated to me. There's nothing wrong with the elaborate serpent type dragon slide and decor of French Quarter but the pool is fairly small in comparison to other resorts. The location of the pool at Port Orleans French Quarter is excellent in that you are literally a two minute walk to the food area and mug refill station, so that's a big bonus in my book. 

Riversides Pool is fashioned to look like an old swimming hole and it's classic nature is incredibly fitting to the look and feel of the overall resort. It puts you "into the story" in a way that French Quarter's pool really seems to lack. 

A more unique selling point of Riverside is a legitimate fishing area that allows guests to fish in a catch and release manner. It's one of those little elements that builds story around the experience, and while they didn't have to add it in, it makes all the difference in a distinctly Disney manner. 

My Overall Pick - French Quarter    

To many this may be a surprise but here's the thing... When we travel to Disney we do so for two main reasons. We travel to enjoy the parks, or to enjoy the resorts. For longer trips we tend to split up the time pretty evenly, but for shorter trips we devote a majority of our time to the parks. Either way, this resort fits our needs. It's exciting enough and there's enough to do at the resort that we could spend a good amount of time there, but if we want to spend a lot of time in the parks, the cost is low enough that you don't feel bad about missing out on some of what the resort has to offer. As always, we recommend a deluxe resort instead, especially if budget is not a problem. If you want to spend some time exploring and enjoying your resort in depth, my top pick is Wilderness Lodge. If you want to go all out, try Club Level at Wilderness Lodge. However, if you want to stay at a fairly budget friendly resort with the best bang for your buck on property, I certainly suggest French Quarter. If you're looking at the moderate tier, this is my pick hands down. It's better than Caribbean Beach in many ways (and we've likely stayed at Caribbean Beach more than any other resort as a result of the low prices quite a few years ago), and while that resort is a great experience this one far outweighs it in the realm of "luxury" and comfort for a few extra dollars a night (at least until Caribbean Beach construction is completed).

Wilderness Lodge
(Pictured: Wilderness Lodge)

Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are! 

Ready to Plan?

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Disney World Discount - How We Saved 27% With One Phone Call


by: guide4wdw - Collin

Disney World Discounts - How We Saved 27% With One Phone Call

Starting out today, I'll be completely honest with you. This is not a special Disney discount code or a trick to capture a special "pin-code" or even a limited time offer discount. Well, actually in some ways, the 27% discount we received on our next booked Disney vacation was slightly time sensitive, but I'll share how we got around that in one simple way. Long story made short, good Disney World discounts are hard to come by these days and, with the rising costs, finding ways to get back to the parks at a cheaper rate is incredibly important to so many of us. 

While many of you may have heard of the discount we're sharing today, I was shocked by this individual scenario and rather than focusing on the discount itself, I wanted to share our experience and how much money it actually saved us. We have the numbers and we will share the real world numbers. Also worth mentioning is that these are real numbers that you can find on Disney's site as of Sunday, May 20th, 2018. Lastly, I would be out of place if I didn't tell you "your results may very" as unfortunate and cliche as that sounds. 

The key to this article to me is not to say "Hey, look what we got!" but rather to be real with you all about the discount. As always, nobody pays us to say these things, we aren't given "special discounts" by Disney as media (contrary to popular belief - believe me... Disney hardly acknowledges we exist at this point lol), and as always this is a pretty raw and unfiltered expression of our thoughts. 

How We Saved $1,000+ On Our Next Disney Trip   

This is likely what you all came for, but believe it or not we saved 27% on a "bounceback" offer. Typically, that is an extremely common discount if you take the time to seek it out during your trip, but our situation was a bit different. For those of you who may not know, Disney offers what is called, as mentioned, "bounceback" discounts. When you're on a Disney vacation, you'll occasionally find a card placed in your room with info about booking your next trip at a discounted rate. According to the info provided by the resort, you must book your next stay before you leave from your current stay. That's where the possible "limited time nature" of this offer (mentioned above) typically comes into play. Truth be told, that's the only way to guarantee your discount. The actual discount will vary by resort and resort category/type but the offer is nearly always available for at least some variety of dates if you can book your stay before you leave. From my experience, the easiest way to do this is to call from your resort phone and ask about the offer, even if the discount card does not appear in your room. At one time these cards were everywhere but they have appeared less and less frequently in recent years. 

Here's where our case gets a bit strange. We did recently return from a trip to the parks and a stay at Disney's Boardwalk Villas, but we did not book our trip before we left. Obviously, at that point we wouldn't typically qualify for the discount. At this point, we didn't think we had even the slightest chance of securing a bounce-back rate. Instead of worrying too much about it, we decided to try and book under one of the discounted rates available for our dates of travel that were straight from Disney and available to everyone. Before we booked, a member of our travel party decided to call up Disney and ask about anything that could be tied to our name. In the past we've ran into free dining (a long time ago) and unique one time discounts long before this site was a reality. This particular call ended in a similar result. 

We inquired about any other discounts that may be available, and were shocked when, after a few minutes on hold, they offered up a discount that took a Boulder Ridge Villa at Wilderness Lodge from a price that was well out of reach for our finances down to a cost that was far less than the rate quoted to us for Saratoga Springs on Disney's website. This is one of many reasons I recommend calling to book your stay or talking with our recommended travel agency. As always, it helps us out when you book through them and we appreciate your support, just tell them Guide4WDW sent you! either way, you may be surprised at the discounts you can get or what a real person can find for you opposed to booking online. 

As you may have noticed, I didnt call the discount a bounceback offer at this point, because honestly they didn't even tell us that was the offer they booked the discount under. Considering this was 2 months after we checked out of our resort, which they knew, the thought of it being that discount never crossed our minds. It wasn't until we made a rookie mistake and forgot to pay our deposit after holding the reservation and losing our entire reservation, that we found out the rate we were booked under originally. See.... even those of us who have been doing this for years miss something every once in a while.... To rectify our classic oversight mistake, we called in desperation to try to get the reservation back. Thankfully we got to talk to a supervisor who was incredibly nice about the issue and who told us that they had went ahead and originally booked us under a "bounceback" offer. It was a stellar recovery for our mistake in the end result but just goes to show that Disney can still be very accommodating if you go about things a bit more creatively than you may originally think to. If you think it's been too long since your last stay to try this, give it a shot anyway, the worst they can do is say "no." You've got nothing to lose but a few minutes of your time!  

The Real World Numbers  

All of this could be made up without real numbers and proof of concept, so here's the breakdown of our savings. We booked a discounted room at the Boulder Ridge Villas in a one bedroom villa. The cost for that room was $5047 originally for a 6 night stay. Keep in mind, every rate you see here is a part of a package we booked with a 2 day ticket included for 4 guests. After the discount was applied, the cost dropped to $3697 for an overall cost difference of over $1000 dollars and a legitimate 27% discount! Its not an "up to 30% off discount," those are real numbers and real world results. If that's not a good discount, I'm not entirely sure what is.

Things to Consider     

Perhaps the best part about these offers is that they apply to the exact same cancelation policy as any other Disney reservation. So, in essence, you could book your stay and hold your stay for a $200 deposit for your package or one nights stay for a stand alone room booking that will be refundable if you decide to cancel more than 30 days out from your travel dates. Also worth noting is that this offer does not prohibit you from utilizing future offers that debut if they are better than your currently booked discount. The offers cannot be combined or layered though. It's a one or the other type of decision. 

With all of that being considered, first - never hesitate to ask about other discounts you may be eligible for, and second - if you can generally pick dates for your next stay, book a second stay for the future during your Walt Disney World resort stay. If you have to change your dates, you can typically take the bounceback rate to your next set of dates, assuming it's not a drastic change. if all else fails, simply cancel your reservation and you've lost nothing if you do it early enough before your next trip. 

Wrapping Up

I know this isn't the ideal discount we all hope for, but it was a surprise nonetheless and something that I thought I would pass some info on to you all about for future bookings. As always, these are simply my tips and what may work for me, may not work for you and your vacation planning style. I share this because it's real results. It's not a sugar coated TV commercial, and you know we only share what has been tried and proven. If you're looking for more info like this, and you're an annual passholder check out our tips on "ticket bridging" in our Disney Annual Pass: When Is It Worth The Money? post.

As always, I truly appreciate you taking the time out of your day to spend a few moments with us. Your time is an incredibly valuable resource and one that there's never quite enough of in this day and age, so we honestly and truly appreciate you spending a few minutes here with us. We're coming up on 1 million page views across the sites history and that is truly a mind blowing number to me and something I never thought I would ever see when this website project began. We're not the biggest site, but if you told me back in 2016 that I would have made the friends I have made through this endeavor, I would have never believed you but I wouldn't have it any other way. Thanks for being here! 

Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are! 

Ready to Plan?

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Our Ideal 1-Day Walt Disney World Itinerary for 2018

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Our Ideal 1-Day Walt Disney World Itinerary for 2018 

For many of us that have been to Disney time and time again, it seems a little strange and a bit weird to think about having one day to spend at Walt Disney World. Many of us spend a week or more touring the parks and resorts and still don't mange to get done all that we hope to accomplish. It's an inevitable reality that presents itself time after time, but I don't say that to discourage you from taking a day to explore Disney World, even if you just have  single day or even a few hours to explore a small portion of what there is to offer on property.

Many of you reading this will find yourself on a work trip in the Orlando area or on an extended layover at Orlando International Airport at some point and may just have one day to get away for a while and enjoy some time in the parks. Again, it's weird for many of us who vacation to the parks year after year to think about, but there are tons of guests arriving at the gates of the parks each day that only have one day to spend at the happiest place on earth.

A majority of those guest come unprepared, don't have tickets, and have no idea what they're walking into, but they all have one thing in common, expectations. Disney World is one of the most sought after destinations in the United States and for fairly obvious reasons, but in today's Disney planning scenario, it can be tough to set up one day and vastly enjoy all that even one park has to offer. 

So, as a result we're taking today to look at what we'd do if we had only one day to spend in one park. I will preface this with the fact that we've been in this situation before and while it isn't ideal, you'll be surprised at how amazing your day can be with the limited amount of time available to you. However, to make the most of the time, you have to arrive with a plan and this is the plan we'd go with. 

Our Ideal 1-day Disney World Itinerary - Tower of Terror

What Park Do You Go To?

If I had never been to Walt Disney World I'd have to spend the time I had exploring Magic Kingdom in 2018. Now, I say in 2018 for one reason and largely one reason only. As the parks grow and new expansions are unveiled over the next 2 years, including Toy Story Land and Star Wars - Galaxy's Edge, my opinion on which park to visit could likely change. Honestly, I would even consider going to Epcot and originally that was my pick for this 1 day itinerary. As I thought about that decision, I took a step back. I redirected my thoughts and considered the scenario once again from a different perspective. If I was a first time guest, what park would leave a lasting impression on me?

The answer I came up with wasn't ideal, because what came to mind was our 7 Day Itinerary. Then I realized one more thing and that was that the point of one day at Disney isn't about doing everything but rather taking the time you have and making the most of it. It's not going to be the perfect trip, but for one day you get the opportunity to escape the world for a few minutes and enter a place of pure happiness. So, the answer I came up with wasn't my favorite park, Epcot (with our Our Tried and True "Epcot in a Day" Touring Plan), but rather a place described best as where you can "leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy,” the Magic Kingdom. 

What Ticket Do You Buy? 

Honestly, you're only going to need a one day ticket to the park and the cheapest place and most reliable place (other than Disney themselves) I've found to buy that is the Official Ticket Center online. It's quick, it's convenient, and you may save a few dollars along the way. For longer stays, you may even catch a free upgrade through them, but I recommend checking out our 2018 Discount Disney World Tickets post before you dive too deep into the ticket buying process for longer stays.

Our Ideal 1-day Disney World Itinerary - Crescent Lake

All things considered, I'd go with a base one-day ticket *without* the park hopper option if you're only doing one day in the parks. Truth be told, you won't have time to park hop without wasting a lot of unnecessary time in this situation. This one tip alone goes against just about everything I talk about in our 2018 Disney World Vacation Planning Tips article when talking about tickets, but in this rare case I can genuinely say to avoid the park hopper (it kind of hurt me to say that lol). Save the money you would have spent on that add-on and see if you can find a table service dining reservation at any location in the Magic Kingdom on the My Disney Experience App.  It can be tough to secure a reservation at the last second but use our last minute reservation tips and you should be able to come up with an excellent meal even on the day of your time in the park.

If you're looking for meal suggestions, I highly recommend looking into:

-Crystal Palace - For a fun filled family character meal with Pooh and friends. There are a ton of great options on the buffet for both kids and adults and the atmosphere is quite elegant as you look out the glass windows towards Cinderella's castle. At the same time, the dining location remains extremely kid friendly and is a place for the whole family to enjoy.

-The Plaza Restaurant - If you're looking for a slightly more budget friendly offering without going to exclusively quick service locations, the Plaza offers a nice blend of classic cheeseburgers and sandwiches of different varieties while mixing things up with a Honey Barbecue Brisket Macaroni and Cheese. If you get the chance to talk with the chef, he'll make your day and share a few culinary tips with you along the way. Ask about his secret to getting rid of that "Florida water" taste! It'll blow your mind and he'll likely remember your visit and you for years to come. We met with him years ago about an allergy some of our friends deal with and he remembered us literally 8+ years later!

-Liberty Tree Tavern - Liberty Tree tends to be a guest favorite of Magic Kingdom. If you're looking for classic Thanksgiving-esque style food, this is an excellent option. Honestly, I haven't been to this one in years, mostly because an extremely heavily meal rarely intrigues me on a sunny Florida day, but it's definitely worth a look if you've never tried it before!     

How to Make the Most of Your Time - Our Ideal Itinerary 

If you clicked on this post or Google brought you here, you likely came for what I'm about to share. I appreciate you having confidence in our planning abilities that are based on experience, but I will say that you'll likely have to modify our plan slightly to fit your needs. Everyone wants to do something different when they head to Magic Kingdom. We all want to see different attractions, eat at different locations, and honestly just see different things. With all of that under consideration, I can say with confidence that if you use this plan, I can nearly guarantee you'll have an excellent day that will be memorable for years to come. 

With that, we'll dive right into it and share exactly what we would do and have done to make the most of a limited amount of time on Disney property. 

First and foremost, if at all possible, get there when the gates open, if not a few minutes before they open. The Magic Kingdom welcomes guests before it's official opening and allows the earliest of individuals to explore Main Street before the attractions and other areas of the park officially debut for the day and the welcome show is performed on the castle stage. If you get there early enough, you'll have plenty of time to scout out some hidden gems of Main Street (like these below) or many others you may uncover on your own that can be found in the "history" section of this site: 
I share these not to build page views to those article (ok, well maybe I do to an extent lol), but rather to share with you an aspect of the parks that many guests miss on one day trips that could leave you with a much greater appreciation for what you experienced during your day in Magic Kingdom. The history of the place is what sets it apart form many other parks across the country and the attention to detail is unparalleled when you take the time to take a closer look. Additionally, those extra few minutes allow you a bit of time to explore the gift locations of Main Street and get a better idea of some special souvenirs you may want to take home with you to commemorate the experience or share a piece of the magic with a friend or family member back home.

Our Ideal 1-day Disney World Itinerary - Epcot Monorail

Ideally, after catching the opening show at the castle, you'll head to one of your favorite attractions and begin the process we've used to Ride 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+! That detailed process is one that we've been using for years and it's the key to taking full advantage of the first hour and a half to two hours after the park officially opens. 

Once you get done with all of those attractions, we recommend trying to find a way to eat breakfast or lunch at Crystal Palace. It is a tough reservation to secure at the last minute, but if all else fails attempt to do a walk up and ask if you can wait for a table. They wont always let you wait, but it's worked for us time and time again over the years.

I recommend Crystal Palace for a few reasons. First and foremost, we've had great experiences over the years there. Second, it offers a buffet that most guests can find something they'll really enjoy eating. Lastly, it's a great way to escape the heat of the summer months as it begins to build in the late morning and early afternoon. You'd be surprised how much of a difference an hour or two in the AC opposed to a few hours in the Florida summer heat can make. In the long run, it'll give you more energy for the rest of the day and you get the chance to eat at our favorite Table Service Breakfast on Property.  

After that meal, I'd recommend heading to a few attractions with shorter wait times (typically its a small world, The Peoplemover, or even the Magic Carpets of Aladdin for a quick set of attractions before the afternoon parade begins. (If you're looking for spot for the parade, I highly recommend the center hub of the park near the Partners Statue or up near the Car Barn at the front of the park. 

Once the parade ends, you'll be well into the peak crowd level for the day and it's a great time to head back to Main Street to do some shopping and cool off again in the air conditioned stores rather than spending that time in an attraction queue. As night starts to set in, catch a few more attractions like Haunted Mansion, or even visit Tom Sawyer Island before catching a quick service dinner or a snack. If you can manage it, try to set up your remaining fastpass+ selections for this point in the day.  

I know, it may be very difficult to get exactly what you want if you buy your tickets last minute or if you didn't plan on visiting the park originally. Either way, take what you can get when you can get it. If you can buy your ticket further ahead of time, do it and then immediately book your fastpass+ selections at the 30 day window for non-resort guests or 60 days for resort guests.

At the end of the day, you'll want to catch one last thing before leaving the park and that's the Happily Ever After Fireworks. It's an excellent show and one I highly recommend so grab an ice cream sandwich at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor and claim your spot about 30 minutes before the show (or an hour+ if you're picky about your "spot"). When the performance in the sky is complete, don't do what most guest do and head for the exits. Stick around the park and head back over to some attractions (if the park is remaining open) for a few last minute attractions. Once the park officially closes for the day, you'll no longer be able to get in line for attractions, but continue to stick around until about 30 minutes to an hour after close for the Kiss Goodnight and to close down the park. The collaborative experience is something you wont want to miss and is truly the perfect way to end a one-day itinerary. 

Wrapping Up

At the end of the day, you'll likely have experienced nearly every attraction in the park, and if all worked out as planned you'll be eager to return at some point in the future. Many guests will leave the Magic Kingdom with a series of memories, a positive outlook, and a greater appreciation for the place created by a man with a dream. It's an empowering experience and one that encourages you to take a step and pursue that one thing you never thought could become a reality. I say this for a reason, but also as a motivation. Two years ago, I never thought I'd be where I am today and doing what I'm doing right this second. The theme park experience not only gave me a place to explore but a location that has brought so many people into my life that I never expected. Once you visit Disney, you become a part of this community that is so difficult to explain. It's a wonderful group of people and a community like nothing else. 

Our Ideal 1-day Disney World Itinerary

Walt said it best, it takes people to make a dream a reality. At the time when that was first shared, he likely didn't know what that simple phrase would become to so many. He created a place not only for cast members to grow and learn, but also a place that fulfills dreams and creates an escape from reality for so many of us time and time again. I share all of this for one reason and that is to encourage you to take whatever amount of time you have to visit the park and to make the most of every minute. You may not have enough time for a full day at Magic Kingdom, but take the time you have and make the most of it. You never know when a simple experience may develop a new favorite aspect of your life and a place that you want to return to time and time again. 

Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

How Do I Create These Posts? 

Every once in a while I get questions about my gear. This is what I use and highly recommend at the moment in the realm of content creation. This list is varied and tends to change from time to time, but this is my current set up of gear used to create these posts. If you have any questions or need some tips in the site building process, feel free to message me on Facebook!

ComputerMacbook Pro  
If you get one of these you'll inevitably need dongles (The USB-C Struggle): 
Main DSLR CameraNikon D3400 (kit lens currently)
Tripod for Night PhotographyPrimaPhoto Traveler 
Photo Editing SoftwareLightroom 6 Stand Alone Version (Not Creative Cloud) 
Secondary Camera: iPhone 7 (Older Photos on the Site) 

Ready to Plan?

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Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.


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