4 Disney Parks in 4 Days . . . Yes, please!
Back in March of 2015, I took advantage of Disney’s promotion of 3 parks for $139 plus an additional $20 for an extra park for Florida residents (I think the price was around $270 for non-Florida residents). Considering one Magic Kingdom ticket alone costs over $100 after taxes (and that’s with the Florida resident price), that’s a great deal I saw in my mailbox. Also, selected resorts were at 35% off under a ‘Winter’ special they had running at the same time. Sooooo discounted tickets to one of the most expensive parks in the solar system, plus a discount on their resorts, with complimentary transportation to and from the airport, hotel, parks and Downtown Disney – sounded great to me. This wasn’t my first time dealing with Mickey Mouse so navigating through the site to book the discount resort and purchase the discounted tickets was easy. The site is user friendly anyways, just decide, click, total and give Mickey Mouse your payment information.
Our magic bands (something like a bracelet that gives you access to the parks, your room, and if you’d like you can link your credit card to it for easy purchases – I passed on the credit card linking offer) came in the mail a few days later along with a set of standard tickets just in case the bands had some ‘technical difficulties’. Which they did in our case and we had to use the tickets to reload our park admission information on our bands. It took only a few minutes for this to get done – mainly because the attendant and I were chatting about other Disney events. And be prepared for tons of “we can’t wait until you get here” teasers from the Disney crew to show up in your mailbox.
Day 1: The Arrival
The Disney bus picked us up from the airport, our magic bands were our booking passes. Seats were nice and comfy with the TVs playing (of course) Disney cartoons on the way to the resort. The bus made drop offs to other Disney resorts – which was fine with me because I was enjoying being driven around. We stayed at one of the newer resorts at the time – The Art of Animation. It is a really nice resort with over the top and larger than life characters and scenes from the Little Mermaid, Cars, The Lion King and Finding Nemo. We stayed in the Cars suite which was a little bit of a walk from the lobby but not as far as the Lion King and Little Mermaid suites.
The suite was nice and roomy, perfectly geared for a 9 year old boy. One of the bathroom lights had a struggle moment when coming on but it fell in line after a few moments. After oohing and aahing at the bedroom décor we headed to the arcade. It was just our luck that the system in the lobby was down so all the arcade games were free to guests to compensate for inconvenience. Good start to the trip – free arcade games until midnight. After the arcade closed, we grabbed dinner at the resort’s diner (pizza) and then walked around the resort.
We did a lot more oohing and aahing at the Disney decorations themed after the movies. After taking in as much as we could we finally got tired and went back to our room for some sleep.
Day 2: Hollywood Studios
My son made sure the first park we visited was his favorite park – Hollywood Studios. I tried to talk him into visiting Epcot first, but I found myself waiting in line for the Hollywood Studios shuttle a few minutes later. Disney shuttles run every twenty minutes so the wait wasn’t bad. Since this is my son’s favorite park, he had the location of all the rides he wanted to ride and the restaurant he wanted to eat at memorized – so no map needed, we just walked straight to everywhere ‘he’ needed to go. I fast passed Toy Story Mania because that ride always always always has a wait of over an hour. I didn’t fall in love with the fastpass because it didn’t allow you to choose all the rides you wanted to fastpass but you were only given a maximum of three – but at least it gives some alternative to waiting over an hour for a 3 to 5 minute ride. After riding everything we wanted to ride and having lunch, we still had plenty of time to kill before the Fantasmic Night Show. Our time killer – Disney’s Winter Summerland miniature golf course that is located by Disney’s Blizzard Beach. Back on the bus time!
The miniature golf course – well, I’ve seen better. Honestly, the miniature golf course at Universal Studios' City Walk in Orlando was much more impressive than Disney’s. I guess I expected more animatronics and little tricks, at least enough to match what City Walk offered. The golf course seemed more like a last minute thing – Mickey Mouse had a little extra land and money in his budget that he had nothing else to do with so Donald Duck suggested a miniature golf course and tadah! Even to a miniature golf fanatic like my son, he was a little disappointed but it was enough to kill the time until the Fantasmic show.
After miniature golf, we bused it back to Hollywood Studios to watch the Fantasmic show – which had some changes that my son didn’t approve of and made sure to point out to me. But he was happy with it overall and Hollywood Studios remained #1 on his Disney Parks list. After saying farewell to Hollywood Studios close to midnight, we bused it over to Downtown Disney to eat at T-Rex. But, we were so tired from the day we made our order to go, ate in our hotel room, and fell asleep shortly after around 2am.
Day 3: Magic Kingdom
I hate Magic Kingdom and the reason why is because there is always a crowd. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, storming, a severe heatwave – nada. There is always a crowd to see Mickey Mouse and his pals perform on stage in front of Cinderella’s castle and parade down Main Street. But moving on – I had to fastpass Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and Peter Pan’s Flight since those are my son’s two favorite rides at Magic Kingdom. A few rides experienced ‘technical difficulties’ while we were aboard which gave us time for photo and goofy video opportunities. The new Fantasyland was cute I guess. My son brought out his inner actor with Belle twice at the Storytime with Belle attraction since Magic Kingdom dies down at 9pm. At that time we basically could get on any ride (aside from the Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train) with a wait time of under 10 minutes. Within our one day at Magic Kingdom, we caught every parade, every show, the fireworks show with the highlight being Tinkerbell flying from Cinderella’s castle over attendees in the park, and rode every ride we wanted to ride at least twice. Magic Kingdom really did take all day for us to complete. We were so tired from our day that we decided to settle with dinner being of leftovers from T-Rex last night. And we barely did that, we made it to the hotel around 1am and fell asleep to cartoons after dinner.
Day 4: Epcot
The days were finally starting to catch up to us because we didn’t wake until 11am. Epcot was the underdog of all the parks because according to my son "it doesn’t have a lot of rides and their show probably isn’t as good as Fantasmic”. Well, as we all know, looks can be deceiving and Epcot is now ranked #2 on my son’s Disney Parks list. And it landed in the #2 spot for only one reason – actually for two reasons: #1 Agent P’s Around the World Showcase and #2 the Orange Chicken served at a restaurant in World Showcase China. The Agent P’s Around the World Showcase allows participants to complete ‘missions’ in various countries (Showcases) of their choosing. Participants are given a cellphone which they receive instructions on how to complete missions and use the phone to set off ‘discreet’ animatronics throughout Epcot. For example, my son completed one mission in Normway which parted a waterfall to reveal a jeweled sword, another was in Mexico where he set off the volcano that is in the background of the Plaza. My son really got into hunting down the clues, plugging his finds in the phone, and setting off all the ‘secretive’ animatronics. I was actually impressed with the missions, they were pretty fun and a sneaky way to get in a bit of exercise during the vacation (a lot of walking around to complete the missions). The funny thing is, although some of these animatronics were large and over the top (like Dr. Dimishnburgh appearing on the roof of a building with a large device that lit up and made sounds) no one seemed to notice them. And the Orange Chicken – my son loves Chinese food and the Orange Chicken and the Chinese restaurant touched his heart for some reason and he’s been raving about it since. As far as the rides – I made sure to fast pass TestTrack and I was able to get the Nemo ride and character greetings in my fastpass set. The Nemo ride had ‘technical difficulties’ causing a pause moment aboard the ride *selfie moment* and we were able to take pics with Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Minnie Mouse. Epcot took us all day to ride a few rides, take our pics with Disney characters, and watch the nighttime fireworks show, but only got through half of Agent P’s showcases and their missions. After the park closed we bused it over to Downtown Disney where we made a pit stop by the Lego Store to get my son the Ghostbusters set and then ate at Planet Hollywood. Downtown Disney was a little annoying to navigate because of the construction, hopefully all the will be completed the next time we visit. Tired and worn out, we made it back to the hotel around 2am and passed out.
Day 5: Animal Kingdom
I’m not a big animal person so I knew I wasn’t gonna get much of a thrill out of Animal Kingdom (especially since my son didn’t want to ride Expedition Everest), but the things we do for our kids right? This day had a late start, we woke at 1pm and still had plenty of time to get the most out of the park. I fast past the Kilmajora Safaris and included The Nemo & Friends show and the Festival of the Lion King show in the set. My son liked the Nemo show more than the Lion King show because of the puppetry but I liked the Lion King show over the Nemo show because of the interaction between the cast and audience (one of the dancers ran into the stands to high-five my son).
Animal Kingdom offered something similar to a scavenger hunt called the Junior Scouts Wilderness Lodge. Each participant is given a scout handbook with a map of the park showing different stops where they can earn ‘badges’ (stickers) through being educated on a certain topic and completing various activities. My son liked it, but not as much as Epcot’s Agent P’s World Showcase. But it was a nice way to add a drop of education during the vacation. The park closes much earlier than the others so we headed back to the hotel so my son can assemble his Ghostbuster Lego set and to eat our leftover Planet Hollywood dinner (have you noticed that we’ve been too tired to eat our food in its entirety? – one reason why the Disney Dining Plan doesn’t work for us, that and I bring snacks and drinks to keep our bellies happy while at the park). It was unintentional, but it turned out to work great to have Animal Kingdom be our last park so we can have the evening to wind down and get enough sleep for our departure tomorrow.
Day 6: The Departure
Check-out was easy – basically you just leave. The shuttle was prompt and got us to the airport in more than enough time to catch our flight. We did eat breakfast at the resort’s diner (the only time we did) and it was your basic Disney breakfast options. I ordered French toast with a big helping of sliced strawberries on the side and my son order the Mickey Mouse waffle with all the side goodies. The food was enough to hold us until we got to the airport.
All in all, the trip was definitely worth the price and we found out a few new things about some of the parks and learned some tips for the next time we visit. Hopefully my experience was able to help you out with your upcoming trip to Disney World or at least give you an idea of what to expect if you're deciding on whether or not to visit Disney.
Which Disney Park is your favorite?
Have you tried the 3 parks for 3 days promo? If you did, post your comments below on your likes and dislikes. And make sure to look out for it around the beginning of 2016 if interested!