Tag Archive: Disney World


So you’ve survived the theme parks. Hooray! You’ve been to the #1, #5, #7 and #8 most visited theme parks in the world. But let’s not rest on your laurels. There is much more to Disney World than the theme parks.

The biggest area outside of the theme parks is Downtown Disney. This is where you will find lots of shopping, restaurants and entertainment. World of Disney is here, which is the largest Disney store this side of the Mississippi. If you can’t find it there, chance are you can’t find it anywhere. There’s also a Christmas and LEGO shop. You will also find DisneyQuest here, which is filled with video and virtual reality games. My favorite thing at DisneyQuest is the roller coaster creator. You design your own roller coaster and then you ride inside a simulator. Also located in Downtown Disney is their Cirque du Soleil show – La Nouba. There is also a movie theater and a House of Blues. There is plenty of shopping and other things to do if the forecast calls for rain all day since most everything is indoors.

Similar to Downtown Disney is another area located at the Boardwalk resort, simply called Disney’s Boardwalk. As the name implies, it is a boardwalk that houses an entertainment district. It’s also very adult-friendly. There are 2 dance clubs for those 21+ as well as Disney’s only operating microbrewery.

Another destination within Disney World is ESPN Wide World of Sports. I’ve personally never been there, but from what I have gathered there isn’t much to it aside from some stadiums. As such, you won’t have any need to go there unless you are attending a sporting event. If sports is your thing, there is also a Richard Petty Driving Experience where you can ride-along with a professional driver for $100+. There are also numerous golf courses sprinkled throughout the resort – Magnolia Golf Course, Palm Golf Course, Osprey Ridge Gold Course, Lake Buena Vista Golf Course and Oak Trail Golf Course. Personally, golf bores me so I can’t say anything about the courses other than noting their existence.

There are two water parks within Disney World – Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Blizzard Beach is a “melting” ski resort, complete with a chair lift. Being a ski resort, most of the water slides are naturally modeled after ski runs down the side of a mountain, in this case Mount Gushmore. Summit Plummet is the most popular water slide in the park, sending riders straight down at speeds up to 60 MPH. There are also water park staples – Cross Country Creek (lazy river) and Melt-Away Bay (wave pool). Typhoon Lagoon, however is the more popular park. It boasts the world’s largest wave pool, Surf Pool, as well as a lazy river, Castaway Creek. It also has a fun feature – Shark Reef. You can snorkel with some sharks and rays in a saltwater tank. For an additional cost, you can do the scuba/snorkel hybrid – Supplied Air Snorkel, where you can stay down longer because they supply you with air.

Speaking of additional costs, all the parks have special tours and experiences aimed at just about every guest. You will probably have noticed little girls dressed up as their favorite princess or little boys dressed up like pirates. These makeovers come courtesy of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and The Pirates League. You can also take an in-depth tour of Kilimanjaro Safaris in Animal Kingdom, go scuba-diving with the dolphins at EPCOT and take backstage tours to see what goes on behind-the-scenes. There are loads of ways to enhance your Disney vacation, so it’s worth looking into.

One last thing to touch on. Tickets are not cheap. Single-day passes without any extras is currently $89. The more days you add, the cheaper it gets per-day. Adding the Park-Hopper is an extra $35 per-day and adding the Water Park & More option is an extra $57 per-day. If you’re planning on getting the most out of your Disney vacation, I’d add both. Park-Hopper is great since it let’s you go between parks all day. The Water Park & More option gives you admission to either water park, DisneyQuest and a few other places. If you buy a 4-day pass, you get 4 admissions to any of those places, as an example.

And there you have it. Disney World in a nutshell. I’ve never had a bad time when I go and it really is magical, even for the kids-at-heart like me. There’s always something bigger and better coming down the line, which begs the question: How many times is too many times to have visited Disney World?

I was so excited about Harry Potter and my West Coast trip I forgot to finish this series of posts! Bad blogger, bad! Onwards, we go!

Animal Kingdom is the latest of the 4 Disney World parks, and while it is the largest of the parks, most of that land is associated with Kilimanjaro Safaris. As you’d imagine, this is Disney’s version of a zoo. It’s also accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which means they’re on top of their game in regards to animal education and conservation. So if you’re a PETA-type who think animals shouldn’t be kept in cages, save your time and energy and go elsewhere. While the focus is on the animals, the only time live animals are showcased in a ride is Kiliminjaro Safaris.

As mentioned before, each park has a hub. For this park, it’s the Tree of Life. It really is a beautiful “tree” to look at. It looks like a baobab tree from afar, but when you get close you’ll see animals carved into the surface. To get to the rest of the park’s areas you will walk onto Discovery Island where the tree is located and take off on the appropriate spoke to get to where you want.

Starting with the area on your right as you enter, you will now be in Dinoland, USA. Mostly home to kid-centric rides, it also has Dinosaur and Tricera Top Spin, both of which are lots of fun. Dinosaur takes you back in time to try and rescue a dinosaur and take it to the present for research purposes. It’s pretty fun, and I’ll admit…the first time I went on it I was scared when you get a certain visitor. Tricera Top Spin is a fun, quick ride, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you get motion sickness. Like the name implies, you spin a lot. As you leave Dinoland, the Finding Nemo musical will be your next stop before the next area. As a Nemo fan, it was loads of fun. Everyone was singing along with Dory, myself included. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim. But wait! Where are the animals? Well, since this is Dinoland, the only animals you’ll see are close relatives – alligators.

Next up is Asia, and the other landmark of Animal Kingdom – Everest. This coaster is entirely too much fun. You go up the mountain to hunt down a Yeti and you go down the track forwards and forwards. If you want to spoil it, there is a YouTube clip of track. Asia is also where you’ll find Kali River Rapids, which I’ll include the same warning for this that I have for Splash Mountain. If it’s an especially hot and humid day, you will have gigantic wait times. You’re best off getting a FastPass and doing something else while you wait. You’ll see more animals in this area than Dinoland. There’s the Flights of Wonder show, which showcases birds, and the Maharajah Jungle Trek, which is where you’ll find tigers, komodo dragons and more.

Following Asia is Africa. Really, the only thing to do in Africa is Kiliminjaro Safaris. This is probably the very first thing you will want to do when you get to Animal Kingdom as the animals are most active during the morning before the afternoon sun gets too hot. I’d recommend heading here first and then FastPassing either Expedition Everest or Kali River Rapids and then riding the one you didn’t get the FastPass for. You’ll also find the train back to Rafiki’s Planet Watch here if you want to learn more about conservation. There is also the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, which is home to the park’s troupe of gorillas. The safari takes you through their savannah, complete with lions, giraffes, elephants and more. It’s a lot of fun and you never get the same ride twice. You’re also on a rescue mission to save a baby elephant from poachers, so there’s more than animals to keep you entertained.

You are led back to Discovery Island after Africa, which is where you will find It’s A Bug’s Life. This is a 3D show similar to Muppetvision, only this time you are in the world of bugs from A Bug’s Life. There are also more animals to see on this island. I’ve personally never been back to Camp Minnie Mickey, but this is where The Lion King show is, as well as character meet-and-greets.

Since I last went in 2008 they’ve announced they are adding Avatar Land to Animal Kingdom, which will be completed a few years from now as construction will begin next year. As the name implies, it will explore the world of Pandora from the movie Avatar. If you think this seems an odd addition, if you look at the emblem for Animal Kingdom, you’ll notice a dragon. When they originally planned out Animal Kingdom they were going to have a land dedicated to mythological creatures. Well, the only mythological creature they have at the moment is the yeti. From what I’ve gathered, Avatar Land will be built in the land intended for the mythological creatures. All the more reason to go back, I suppose.

Next stop on the Disney tour: Downtown Disney and VIP experiences.

Once upon a time, this park was called MGM Studios, but Disney has since cut their ties with MGM and called it Hollywood Studios. This park is probably my second favorite after Magic Kingdom. It’s home to most of the adult-targeted rides in the whole of Disney World. It’s dedicated to the movies, as it’s name implies, which as a movie geek I love.

You enter the park on Hollywood Boulevard and are greeted by this park’s hub equivalent of Cinderella’s Castle or the geodesic sphere of Epcot – Mickey’s sorcerer hat from Fantasia. I will honestly tell you that I find Hollywood Studios to have the most confusing layout of all the Disney parks, so a map will probably be your best friend. It’s not impossible to navigate, it’s just not as simple as the hub-and-spoke setup in the other parks.

On your right will be Sunset Boulevard, which is where you will find two of the biggest thrills in all of Disney World – Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. If you skip both of these I will hunt you down and kill you. No, I’m just kidding. They really are great rides, so do yourself a favor and get to them first before the lines become impossible. Tower of Terror takes you up to the top of a “haunted” hotel and drops you 13 stories a few times. I have a fear of elevators and free-falling, so this one gives me the chills on a personal level because it’s my worst nightmare come true. Despite that, it’s one of my favorite amusement park rides ever. And Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is your basic indoor roller coaster. They shoot you off at 60 mph into a series of loops and turns in a coaster car shaped like a vintage limousine, all the while having music from Aerosmith playing from speakers by your ears. Also located in this area of the park is a Beauty and the Beast stage show, which is nice if you have time to kill, but not a necessity. This is also where you’ll find Fantasmic, and I’ll come back to that later.

The next logical area is Animation Courtyard, which is dedicated to the Disney animation tradition. This is where you’ll find the stage show for The Little Mermaid. You’ll also find Toy Story Mania in the adjacent Pixar Place. This was only a couple months old when I was last there, so the lines were insane. We did a FastPass and went back and did The Great Movie Ride to bide our time. Toy Story Mania is entirely too much fun. It’s similar to the Buzz Lightyear ride at Magic Kingdom, but they added 3D to it. You board cars and play a bunch of midway games and you compete with those in your car to win. The Great Movie Ride is located inside the replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theater and is actually pretty fun. But this is also a statement coming from a movie buff. They take you through the Golden Age of the movies and show you reproduced sets from classics like Casablanca and The Wizard of Oz. Luckily Disney was able to keep the rights to do this when they split ways with MGM.

Streets of America should be your next stop in the loop around the park. You’ll find the Muppetvision 3D show, the Lights, Motors, Action Stunt Show and the Backlot Tour. Personally, I’d do all three. I grew up on the Muppets, and the show is great. The Backlot Tour is where they stash a lot of props from old movies. Since the 3rd Pirates of the Caribbean was released the year before there were loads of props from that series. As a GIGANTIC Pirates of the Caribbean fan, I squeed like a schoolgirl for quite a bit of the ride. The stunt show is a fun way to relax for a while because you’re sitting and they do a lot of really cool tricks and do a lot of explaining how they do it. Last on the loop around is Star Tours, which has gotten a facelift since I was last there. It now takes place between the old and new Star Wars trilogies. Any self-respecting nerd will not miss it, nor would they likely skip out on the Indiana Jones stunt show that’s nearby as well.

Now, back to Fantasmic. This is quite honestly the best show Disney World does. And in all seriousness, if you want good seats, you will be in the holding area before the 90 minutes they recommend getting there. There’s limited seating, so it’s obviously first-come, first-served. It’s a water/light/laser/fire spectacle. They project movie clips onto water spray, there’s floats with some of the Disney princesses and Mickey fights off the villains. It’s not to be missed.

As the smallest of the four Disney World parks, there isn’t much to it. But overall, it’s really enjoyable. If you’re only here for half of a day, do not miss Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Star Tours or Toy Story Mania. I’d recommend making it an evening half-day so that you can see the Fantasmic show.

And, now we’re onto the final park in Disney World, Animal Kingdom. Grab your safari gear!

I’m going to try and knock out the rest of the Disney World parks before I go to Wizarding World of Harry Potter in a month, so here we go for Epcot, which was the second park built. A little fun tip, instead of parking in the EPCOT parking, park at the Transportation Center and take the monorail to the park. You can do this for Magic Kingdom, as well.

Epcot is divided into 2 parts, Future World and World Showcase. Future World is really where all the rides are and World Showcase is home to little vignettes of countries. And I have one word for you: booze. If you’ve never heard of it before, you can do what is colloquially called the World Tour. This is definitely not an activity for the kiddies. But I’ll get to that later.

The park as a whole is aimed to be very educational, but fun. Future World is just chock full of learning. It’s home to Living with the Land,  The Seas with Nemo & Friends,  Ellen’s Energy Adventure and Spaceship Earth. I love The Seas. Finding Nemo is my favorite Pixar movie and Nemo and his pals are everywhere! There’s even a show with an interactive Crush. It’s also home to more thrilling rides – Test Track, Soarin’ and Mission: Space. Those three are definitely must-do’s. Test Track takes you through some basic car safety tests like handling and weather then shoots you out to do a few high speed laps. Mission Space keeps you in a tumbler that mimics the G-forces and twists and turns of a spaceship launch. And Soarin’ gives you a hang-gliding tour of California. But if you plan on doing the World Tour, it’s best to do them first to avoid vomiting while riding them.

Now, onto the adult fun stuff. World Showcase is set up around a lagoon. Anyone who drinks knows the saying “Liquor before Beer you’re in the clear, Beer before Liquor never been sicker,” right?

With that being the case, hang a left and start in Mexico and La Cava del Tequila inside San Angel Inn. As it’s name implies, it serves tequila. And any place that serves tequila also serves margaritas if you can’t handle straight tequila. There’s also Mexican beers. I’d stick with a shot of tequila or a beer as the margaritas are mostly sugar and won’t be sitting well in your stomach after a while, especially in the heat and humidity of Florida. Next up is Norway, which is also home to Maelstrom. This is another good reason to start in Mexico, which also has a ride called Gran Fiesta. While mostly gentle boat rides, it’d be safer to go on them as you’re starting to drink and not towards the end of the bingefest. Now, what do they offer in Norway? Beer and Irish coffee. Really? I know the UK is kinda close to Scandanavia, but they should’ve left the Bailey’s in England. So that leaves you with a beer, wine or a shot of Aquavit, which is a caraway-flavored liquor. I had a shot of the Aquavit, and it was actually quite tasty.

Next up is China, which was under construction last time I was there, so there wasn’t a whole lot to offer. Now that it’s back, my research has led me to find that it sells Yuengling. While delicious, it’s brewed in PA, not China. So for the sake of staying true to the goal of the World Tour, try Tsingtao in the cafe or a cocktail at the Joy of Tea stand outside. There’s also a plum wine to try, which sounds quite tasty. Following China is “Africa.” There’s not much to it besides a few stalls and kiosks, but they do sell beer, although none of it comes from Africa.

Now comes the country of my people: Germany. There is no shortage of beer in this country. I’ve been here for the lunch buffets both of the last times I was here, and it’s been great. There’s an oompa band to entertain you while you stuff your face with German food. This is definitely a good place to ask the wait staff what they’d recommend since the selection is so great. And it wouldn’t be Germany without Jagermeister and schnapps! Following Germany is Italy. Personally, I’m a limoncello fan, so that’s what I got. But they also serve plenty of Italian wine, peach bellinis and an Italian beer.

Following Italy is the US, which means beer. It also means you’ve reached the halfway point in your bingefest. And apparently beer is all they serve in the US. No Jack Daniels or wine from Napa here, which is a shame. They of course serve Bud and Sam Adams here, which between the two I prefer Sam Adams. Next up is Japan, famous for sushi and sake. This was the first place I tried sake and it is quite tasty if you’ve never had it before. If you want to stick with beer, they do serve Kirin Ichiban as well.

Next up is Morrocco. As an Islamic country, there really is no alcoholic drink that you’d associate with it. But Disney took it upon itself to invent some drinks for Morrocco. They came up with more margarita-type frozen drinks. They do serve a beer that is brewed in Morrocco as well, so that’s the extent of the offerrings in Morrocco. Coming up after Morrocco is France. It does have lots of wine and champagne like you’d expect, as well as a French beer.

You’ve hit the home stretch after France and you’re probably stumbling into England. And when you think of drinking in England, you think of having a pint in a pub. And Disney didn’t leave that out when they constructed England. This is the only real bar aside from La Cava del Tequila. You can order mixed drinks as well as pint of Guinness, Harp or Bass Ale. They also have a selection of Scotch and wines. And now you’ve reached the end – Canada. It unfortunately gets the same treatment as the US…it only serves beer. There is a full bar at the restaurant, but you need resevations to get in, so you’re left with the kiosks and beer. They do offer one mixed drink as well as a Bacardi mojito at a kiosk once you leave, though.

This is a lot of alcohol, obviously. If you stick to one drink per country, that’s a total of 12 drinks (including “Africa”). You will be properly smashed by the end. I’ve never done it the whole way around. I’ve picked and chosen – the Aquavit, a beer in Germany, a limoncello, sake and a glass of wine in France. Something to definitely keep in mind is the heat and sun: DRINK WATER! All this alcohol will leave you dehydrated, so unless you want alcohol poisoning, keep drinking water and lots of it depending on when you are travelling. A great thing to do is share drinks. If you only share with one person, that takes the 12 drinks down to 6. And if you’re there in the dead heat of summer, a beer koozie may not be a bad idea to keep everything cold.

Epcot may seem pretty boring on the surface, but there are a few thrills to be had. It’s also home to a drinker’s version of a marathon. Something I plan on doing next time I am there is starting at noon when the World Showcase opens and just taking my time and tasting a little bit of everything. A truly great way to end the night is by getting a table at the pub in England for IllumiNations, which is their nightly show that takes place in the lagoon. It’s not as spectacular as Fantasmic over at Hollywood Studios or the Main Street Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom, but still a very nice show.

Now, that was the full-day tour. If you’re only there for a half-day, what time you go depends on what your inentions are. If you’re going for the rides and will be spending minimal time in World Showcase, go in the morning and be sure to use and abuse your FastPass. If you’re going for the drinking, the afternoon and evening work out better for you since World Showcase only opens at noon.

Now, onward to Hollywood Studios!

It seems organic to go over the parks in the order they were constructed, so we’ll start with the one that started it all. When I utter the words “Magic Kingdom” Cinderella’s Castle, visions of princesses and hordes of children in Mickey Mouse ears will most likely come to mind, correct? Well, there’s a lot more to it than that, let’s be honest. This is the home of the 3 great mountains, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It’s also home to The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and much, much more.

The layout for the Magic Kingdom is extremely easy to navigate. You enter the park on Mainstreet USA, which is basically just an avenue of shops and food stalls. Dead ahead is Cinderella’s Castle in all it’s majesty. There are spokes off the hub of Cinderella’s Castle that will take you to the various “lands,” Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland & Liberty Square. It’s very easy to start off at either Adventureland or Tomorrowland, which are on opposite sides of the park, and just loop around to the different areas.

One of the best tip I can give anyone going to any of the parks is to get there right when they open at 9 AM. This is especially important at the Magic Kingdom. It’s not because there’s so much to do, it’s because the “kiddie” ride lines will take ages once the families arrive. Last time I was there we were able to walk onto most of the rides in Fantasyland – Mad Tea Party (we even got a glimpse of Alice and the Mad Hatter riding), Dumbo, It’s a Small World, etc. By beating the families with small children, you have that much more time to invest in waiting in line for other rides. If you don’t want to embrace your inner child by riding even the teacups, then by all means you can just skip ahead to where you want to go.

It also should go without saying that FastPass will quickly become your best friend. It basically grants you access to quicker lines at all of the popular rides. You can get a FastPass for Space Mountain and wait in line for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, for example. By the time you’re done over on Buzz Lightyear, it’ll almost be time to to head Space Mountain. But be careful and see what time your FastPass is for. Sometimes you’ll get a FastPass for a few hours later, so keep an eye out if you’ve got other things scheduled that night. You can only get one at a time, as well.

The past 2 times I’ve been there, I’ve had 2 different plans of attacks. The first time, we went to all 4 parks in 2 days, while the last time we spent all day. The half-day route forces you to pick what’s important to you and you have to stick with that plan of attack. We easily got through the 3 mountains, Buzz Lightyear, The Haunted Mansion & Pirates of the Caribbean. But that was about it, aside from some shopping time. However, with a full day, we got through all that and then some. We even waited an hour or so to get pictures with the Disney princesses (we hit jackpot – Cinderella, Belle & Aurora).

A couple of things that shouldn’t be missed is the Main Street Electrical Parade & the Wishes fireworks show that follows right after the parade. Arrive early for prime, curbside seats for the parade, obviously. Send out someone to grab snacks while you wait. I know while we were waiting I went to Ariel’s Grotto to get my picture with her (side note: this, along with Mickey’s Toontown is closed for construction through 2013). It is easily the best parade. All the floats are lit up with LED lights. It’s just beautiful.

OK, so here’s the Must List for the attractions, at least from my point of view. Starting from the right side of the park and looping around:

In Tomorrowland, definitely do Space Mountain, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin & Stitch’s Great Escape. Astro Orbiter & the Indy Speedways are possibilities if you have time. Tomorrowland Transit Authority & Carousel of Progress are both total snore-fests, so don’t bother with them.

In Fantasyland, definitely do Mad Tea Party and Dumbo. Depending on your ability to keep the theme music out of your head the rest of the day, It’s a Small World is a classic. Mickey’s PhilharMagic would be a good cure if you do get the theme music stuck in your head, but it’s overall a good 3D show for the audiophiles. Everything else is optional, based on your love of certain classic Disney movies, like Peter Pan or Snow White.

There isn’t much in Liberty Square in all honesty. Definitely do The Haunted Mansion. The Hall of Presidents is a snore-fest, literally. Every time I’ve been there I’ve fallen asleep during the show. I’m just not a history junkie. It bores me to death.

Frontierland is home to the last 2 mountains, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. As far as Splash Mountain is concerned, you can expect gigantic lines if it’s an especially hot and humid day. It’s best to wait till it’s either raining (an inevitability in FL, there’s always a shower that passes through each day) or towards the end of the day when it’s starting to cool off if the lines are too long for your liking. You can also expect the FastPass times to be hours and hours from the current time if it’s really hot and humid. Country Bear Jamboree & Tom Sawyer Island can also be skipped.

Adventureland is home to what I call my Mecca – Pirates of the Caribbean. I would call it blasphemy if I didn’t go through it at least once. You also have Jungle Cruise and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin here. They’re fun if you have the time. The Enchanted Tiki Hut isn’t anything special, so it’s a skip from me. There’s also a pirate street show, but Captain Jack Sparrow sadly does not pose for pictures afterwards. *sigh*

If you’re doing a half-day excursion, at least do the 3 mountains and then go from there.

There’s plenty of shopping and dining throughout the park, of course. If you’re looking for a sit-down restaurant, definitely call ahead and make reservations for your restaurant of choice.

So, there you go. Nothing overly sentimental, loads of rides and tons of fun. Next stop, Epcot.

I love Disney World. I’m a 27 year old woman and I’m not afraid to admit that fact. I’m also a 27 year old woman without kids, nor do I ever plan on having kids. This aversion to a family life can pose problems if you want to take a Disney vacation. So, I’ll go through my last Disney trip and give you tips I used and those I learned along the way.

The biggest and easiest way to enjoy an adult Disney vacation is to go during the low season. It shouldn’t be any secret that while kids are in school they obviously won’t be at Disney World in gigantic numbers. There will still be large numbers of people, just nowhere near as many. It’s best to avoid holidays of any kind, so avoid:

-Christmas Break from mid-December through the first week of January. Not only is this the busiest time of year for Disney, it’s almost the most expensive. It’s got it’s own price bracket that’s more expensive than even the “peak” season. So unless you absolutely MUST see the Christmas decorations, make your holiday plans elsewhere.

-Mid-February through August. These months flucuate between being called “regular” and “peak” seasons. Starting around Valentine’s Day and the 3-day President’s Day weekend, Disney World gets busier. Once past Febraury, it’s Spring Break season, followed almost immediately by the summer months. And don’t be fooled by them calling summer the “regular” season. It may be “regular” because it’s when they have their average sized crowds, but man is it crowded. It’s prime family vacation season, so there’s kids EVERYWHERE!

So that knocks out 2/3 of the year. Yes, it looks bleak. But again, since you’re an adult without familial ties, it’s easier to take a vacation in January, September, October and November. Also, the weather these months are wonderful. It’s the tail end of hurricane season and around 90 degrees once September rolls around, but it will only get cooler until next spring.

There are also a couple of considerations for travelling during the low season. The parks are open for shorter hours because of the lower business. And then there’s Extra Magic Hours. The parks all open earlier or stay open later for guests of the Disney World resorts on a rotating schedule. Whichever park is the Extra Magic Hours park will be the busiest park that day.

Now, there’s a whole other set of considerations when looking into a place to stay. The cost of a hotel is something you’re unable to avoid unless you live in the greater Orlando area. But with it being such a tourist hot-spot, you have loads of options. You can stay at one of the many resorts on Disney property or somewhere off-site. The last couple of times I was there I was there with family, so we used our timeshare to get a condo on the Marriott World Center property just on the other side of I-4 from Disney World. Not everyone has that luxury, but if you can swing it, it’s a really nice way to stay in the Orlando area. You basically have an apartment, so you can cook for yourself and not spend so much money on food in the parks. We had breakfast before we left and then a late dinner when we got home at night, then lunch and a snack at the parks.

If you want to stay on Disney property, you have lots of options. The last time I was there and stayed on-site I was at the Port Orleans Riverside resort. The resorts are nice because of the added bonus of free transportation. If you’re trying to keep costs to a minimum, you can skip the added cost of a rental car because once you get to the property, there’s a bus that will take you anywhere you’d want to go on Disney property. Plus you have a safe ride in case you imbibe a little too much at Epcot or Downtown Disney. If you’re staying off-site, there may or may not be a shuttle to the parks, plus there’s the $12 a day parking lots at the parks. But there’s also greater variety of places to stay off-site to fit your expectations and price range. It has the second highest number of hotels in America. Only Las Vegas has more options.

I know next time I can afford to go I’ll be staying at the Polynesian resort. That’s just my personal preference. It’s tropical and I love tropical locales. But there’s resorts to fit just about everyone’s budget and tastes. Of course, the nicer places are more expensive. The Animal Kingdom Lodge looks absolutely stunning and sits amidst it’s own personal animal preserve. You can wake up and watch giraffes walk by while eating your breakfast, but you obviously have to pay for such a luxury. Both the Polynesian and Animal Kingdom Lodge are “Deluxe” hotels and are a hop, skip and jump away from their respective parks, so even in Disney World, it’s all about location, location, location. The rooms are also bigger and more like suites than standard hotel rooms.

In the “Moderate” range, you’re paying less, getting less and getting a bit further from the parks. This is what the Port Orleans Riverside falls under. The “Value” level hotels are the cheapest and offer the least amenities. If you’re going solely for the parks, these price brackets aren’t bad ways to go since you’re going to be spending a minimal amount of time at your resort. These rooms are your standard hotel rooms.

Then there’s the mack-daddy of the resorts…the “Deluxe Villas.” Most are just special areas in existing resorts, but these are essentially condos. If you want a real, relaxing vacation with room to spread out, this is the way to go.

Just as a point of reference, here’s some pricing for the high and low seasons, using the cheapest room option.

Jambo House (Deluxe Villa): Value season-$280; Regular season-$330; Peak season-$410; Holiday season-$465

Beach Club Resort (Deluxe): Value season-$335; Regular season-$385; Peak season-$465; Holiday season-$545

Coronado Springs Resort (Moderate): Value season-$159; Regular season-$180; Peak season-$204; Holiday season-$244

All-Star Movies Resort (Value): Value season-$82; Regular season-$102; Peak season-$129; Holiday season-$164

Of course, this is just a point of reference. If you want prices for a specific date or a different resort, the Disney website can help you out with that. But you can plainly see that the low season is best, not only for crowd levels, but for the prices on hotel rooms.

So I hope that helps those you who, like me, still love the Disney magic. This is only a first post in a series, so check back for posts about an adult take on the different parks.