I’ve been to Florida more times than I can remember, and it’s somewhere I can’t get enough of. Mostly because of Disney World. Yes, I’m 22 and still a Disney fan.
I went to Disney World for the first time when I was 5. My whole family went, plus my grandma and aunts. I don’t remember much about that trip, but I know I was amazed by all of the princess stuff. (Belle is my favorite, and Beauty and the Beast is my all-time fav movie.)
A few of must-sees at Disney:
- Magic Kingdom: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and the Haunted Mansion are “big kid” classics, and you can’t miss Cinderella’s Castle. If you have a little boy, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and the Jungle Cruise are musts. Kids of all ages will love the Country Bear Jamboree, “it’s a small world” and Pirates of the Caribbean. Don’t forget about all of the movie-specific rides, either. They might be a little slow for some, but they’re part of the experience. Disney just redid Fantasyland, and I know there are lots of new things to see and do, plus a new place to eat.
- Epcot: Travel to different countries without leaving sunny Florida—Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom and Canada. There are a few rides in the countries, and there’s lots of native cuisine to try. The best rides at Epcot are Spaceship Earth, Soarin’, Fast Track and the Maelstrom at Norway.
- Animal Kingdom: It’s not my favorite park, but you have to go if it’s your first time at Disney. DINOSAUR, Expedition Everest (new since the last time I was there), Kali River Rapids, Primeval Whirl and Kilimanjaro Safaris are a few of the only rides, but the rest of the park allows you to get up close and personal with exotic animals. Oh, and make sure you don’t miss the Lion King show. It’s a shortened version of the Broadway musical, and just as spectacular.
- Hollywood Studios: The Tower of Terror. Rockin’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. Beauty and the Beast Live. Enough said.
- Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach: Disney also has two waterparks, both of which I’ve been to. Blizzard Beach has more slides, but Typhoon Lagoon has a monster wave pool.
*Note: If you have littles, don’t forget to buy an autograph book. Waiting in line for characters might not sound like fun, but it’s definitely worth it. Even if you kids are older, make sure to hit up their favorites!
We’ve stayed on-property several times, and I would highly suggest it, especially if it’s your first trip. The Contemporary Resort is awesome—the monorail goes through it, so you can hop and get to the parks. There’s also a Breakfast with Mickey and Friends inside the hotel, which is a lot of fun.
I suggest getting a Hopper Pass too. Hoppers allow you to hop from park to park for X number of days. And I don’t think they expire (we’ve been able to use old Hoppers on several trips).
The thing I hate about Disney is the lines. There are certain times of the year that aren’t as busy as others, but if you happen to be there in the spring or summer, you’re going to be waiting in lines longer than you’ve ever seen before. The Fastpass will take care of most of the lines—the most popular rides allow you to grab a Fastpass and come back later, skipping most of the line.
While you’re in Florida, I suggest visiting Universal Studios (HARRY POTTER WORLD!) and Sea World (no rides, but lots of marine life and the Shamu show). Florida also has lots of beaches, and if you’ve never been to one, try one on the Gulf of Mexico side of the state. They’re generally cleaner and the water is clearer. (I went to Cocoa Beach in high school on a band trip, and wasn’t impressed; but I went to Pensacola Beach in college and was happy as a clam.)