Insiders' guide to visiting Walt Disney World® Resort 

 

Matthew and Cheryl Cantrall

Living close to Disney, my wife, Cheryl, and I are often asked: “What are some of the must-sees at Disney?” and that is a pretty difficult question to answer, as there is so much to do and normally so little time.

When traveling to Central Florida, a stop at Disney properties is a must, but depending on your appetite for fun in the sun, which Disney Park to visit will vary, as they are as different from each other as night and day. The one bit of advice we can give you is, if you are going to go to any of the Disney Parks, to plan your days in advance. As soon as you know you are going and have purchased your park ticket(s), take advantage of FastPass+ reservations at the parks, which allow you to select from a list of experiences and times ahead of time. 

For those staying on Disney property, you can begin making your FastPass+ selections as early as 60 days out; 30 days for those not staying on Disney property. The typical wait times for many of the more popular attractions can be as long as an hour or more without a FastPass+. The key to making your Disney experience magical is to plan ahead.

One other must, when visiting Disney properties in Florida in June, is to make sure you bring an inexpensive poncho, as summers in Florida can be wet.

So, now that you have secured your poncho and are ready to book your FastPass+ selections, here are some additional things we might recommend.

A. If you have never been to Disney’s Magic Kingdom, the main attractions here are Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Haunted Mansion. Of all the parks, the Magic Kingdom seems to attract young guests, as many of the attractions are for the young at heart.  There are plenty of eating opportunities but if you want a special treat, plan early to have lunch or dinner at the Diamond Horseshoe. Dining there provides you a great time to sit down and relax, have a good meal and enjoy the atmosphere of an Old West-style music hall.

B. Epcot lends itself to guests who are a little older. While most of the food at the Walt Disney World® Resort is good, dining at Epcot affords you the opportunity to dine at numerous eating establishments with an international flair. Chefs de France is one of our favorites. The must-see attractions are Test Track and Soarin’ Around the World, and just like the Magic Kingdom, take advantage of FastPass+.

CDisney’s Hollywood Studios is for movie fans, more specifically Star Wars fans. There is a new Star Wars land under development due to open in late fall 2019, and if the force is with us, it will be ready in June. In the interim, try the Star Wars Launch Bay, Star Tours – The Adventure Continues, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, as they won’t disappoint. For those movie buffs, the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular show is sure to thrill, and if you are lucky, you might even be chosen to participate in the show. Toy Story Mania! is the most popular ride for kids here. The Hollywood Brown Derby and Hollywood & Vine offer great dining experiences.

D. Disney’s Animal Kingdom features Pandora – The World of Avatar experience, along with Expedition Everest, among others. Our last visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom had us wait almost two hours to get into the Avatar Flight of Passage ride, so book your FastPass+ as soon as you can. The Tusker House Restaurant provides you with some great sit-down dining with Disney characters, and the Rain Forest Cafe is for everyone.

Weather permitting, fireworks are the norm at all the parks except Disney’s Animal Kingdom, so plan to stay late and enjoy them.

The key to making your Disney experience one to remember begins now, as you plan your trip to Florida. Your planning should also include an evening at Disney Springs for shopping and dining. The dining choices are unbelievable.  Great seafood can be had at Paddlefish or The Boathouse.  If you have children, you might want to try T-REX; they will have a blast and you will too.

So, we encourage you to put on your cool and comfortable clothes and head to the Walt Disney World® Resort for one of the most magical Kiwanis International conventions in recent years.

M-I-C -see you real soon in Orlando – K-E-Y – why because we like you – MOUSE,

Matthew Cantrall, your host committee chair

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