Disney World 2023 - Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios
If you found this Vlog you are probably planning or looking to plan your next Disney World vacation. I hope you find some tips and tricks within this post. I also vlogged each day of the trip that has everything linked that I use to make sure that we have a smooth day in the parks, so be sure to watch the video if you want to see the tips put to use!
First off, my name is Sami and I am a Annual Passholder! I've been going to Disney ever since I was 5 years old (and yes I remember that trip better than most middle school or high school memories! haha), but I became a Passholder in Spring of 2019. I always knew ever since I was 5 years old I wanted to make Orlando home and "live at Disney." I know I'm one of the fortunate ones who had the opportunity to do actually do so! I still own my home in Orlando because I want my daughter also having the opportunity to visit such a magical place.. plus, I'm 100% a Disney adult and can't give up going to the parks and enjoying them they way I did when I lived in Orlando full-time. Which means after work going to the parks to ride a couple rides, grab dinner, and enjoy a firework show. However, since I did get to spend so much time at the parks, I like to think I have adulting Disney down to a science. However, now with a 1 year old daughter, I feel like I've been taking that knowledge and adapting it to without a doubt the most magical experience I've ever had which is seeing Disney through my daughter's eyes.
So.. without any further ado... Tips from day 1 of our trip to Disney World March 2023:
Day 1 we did NOT use Genie+ even though for some reason on the Vlog I thought we did. *face palm* However, gives you a great idea of what to ride at what time. We started the day out at Animal Kingdom.. my favorite park! I could easily spend an entire day here, but I do like the other parks evening shows better as there are no fireworks at Animal Kingdom so they do not spook our animal friends! Therefore, I highly suggest scheduling your park reservation for AK so you can park hop somewhere else later (unless you enjoy a gorgeous water show!)
Once you get into the park, many will rush to the tree to get their family photo. However, before you rush to whatever ride you are rope dropping, take your tree photo on the bridge soon as you are actually in Animal Kingdom. As you can see, there are way less people around in our photo and it's easier for my daughter to focus since there aren't a ton of people bumping into to you while you are trying to get your tree photo. Speaking of rope dropping attractions though - most people will rope drop Avatar's Flight of Passage or the Navi River Journey, so my recommendation is knock out some of those other big attractions like the Safari or Dinosaur. You'll see the Avatar lines start to drop to close to an hour just before lunch time. The Flight of Passage line goes quickly as it is a very interactive line, so an hour will go by in no time. Otherwise, you are looking at a 2+ hour wait if you are not using Genie+ for these two attractions if you go at peak times. We personally went to the Safari first since this is the time they typically have just put food out for the animals and you will see so many up and about! They are also very active at sunset, but morning is without the best time to see the most animals and see them active! Afterwards, we went straight to Dinosaur and only had about a
5 minute wait (which is why I thought we had Genie+), but it truly was due to the timing of the day and most people being in Avatar at the park. Another attraction that would be good to rope drop, as long as you are fine with getting wet to start the day, is Kali River Rapids. BE PREPARED THOUGH, YOU WILL GET SOAKED ON THIS RIDE. Keeping that in mind, if you are park hopping and don't want to get wet to start the day, make sure you do this with plenty of time to dry off/bring extra clothes so you are not wet on a cold bus headed to your next park destination.
If you are like our group, and the only one who likes to ride rollercoasters like myself, know that you can easily hop on Expedition Everest as it has a single rider line. It is one of the only attractions at Disney World with this option. You enter for this line around the side, almost closer to the store you exit from. The line is almost hidden, so most do not know about this option. It is definitely a time saver on what is my favorite thrill ride in the parks!
Shows that are worth catching:
- Festival of the Lion King: This has all of the classics in it, but is very interactive as they bring some of the crowd down to participate! We were on the second row on the end and a couple of the cast members/characters sat next to us while performing so they could interact with my daughter who was mesmerized by them. It was so sweet to watch how they took note of how entranced she was by the show! Know though you cannot take food or drink into this show unless the drink has a lid.
- Feathered Friends in Flight: This show is BEAUTIFUL and very... unexpected! These bird's have a mind of their own, so not one show has ever been the same as the last. It will keep your belly hurting from laughs. There's even a couple jokes for the parents in this show.
- It's Tough to be a Bug: It's cruel, but I absolutely cannot wait till I can take Lyla to this. Any age can watch this show, but I think the prime age for a kid to go to this show is 3yrs+. It is hilarious (because you know the kids are perfectly fine and safe), but your kid will be screaming terrified in this 3D show. There are some surprises that even some adults will be screaming during this show. Harmless fun, but parents make sure you are prepared to give the cuddles after to your crying toddler.
We then had a cast member work his magic and upgraded my friend's pass for free to go to Hollywood Studios. I've had this happen a few times when I have friends visiting that do not have a annual pass like myself and just have the one park/day ticket. I would not rely on this happening for you, but if it is later in the day (3 PM or later) I've had this happen three times at Animal Kingdom that a cast member was so kind to upgrade my friends pass so that my friend does not have to pay extra to go see one of the firework shows. Therefore, we then ventured over to Hollywood Studios so we could do a few rides and watch Fantasmic!
Hollywood Studios Tip:
I'll be honest, this is not the park I frequent often. I am not a Star Wars fan and do not care about the Star Wars rides. I've only ever ridden Smuggler's Run which is fun, but I do not do well with motion rides and this has made me feel terrible every single time. I do perfectly fine on Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom or on Soarin', but Smuggler's Run is not the ride for you if you get any motion sickness. Aside from the rides, even if you are not a Star Wars fan, you can still appreciate this part of the park. It is so impressive what they built and if I had seen more than the 1st Star Wars movie (fell asleep in theaters within 5 min for the last two. I tried telling my friends it bores me but no one believed me until they witnessed how hard I slept during those movies haha), then I would know what I was looking at but it is VERY impressive not even knowing what I'm looking at. So all that to say, I don't have the best tips for this park. However, I would suggest going to the first showing of Fantasmic because afterwards there is the Wonderful World of Animation that happens in the heart of the park at Animation Courtyard. We were also then able to walk straight onto Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway because most go home after the firework shows. That is a tip for any park though. Save "any height" rides for the end of the night. Unless families have a child like my daughter who loves a stroller nap, they most likely will leave early. However, my daughter loves staying up late and she is able to take her naps during the day fine in her stroller. You'll be able to knock out a ton of rides there at the end of your day as wait times are significantly down for these "any height" rides.
Shows that are worth catching:
First.. let me start with if you are wanting to catch dinner and a show somewhere, this is the park to do it. SO many incredible shows!
- Muppet*Vision 3D: I mean this is a classic. You cannot go see this. When I think of my childhood and coming to the parks, it is going to this show then eating at Pizza Planet after.
- Indiana Jones: What an epic show! The stunts in this will have you sitting on the edge of your seat! It is exciting and gives a great behind the scenes of action films like Indiana Jones, but also Aladdin!
- Beauty & the Beast Live on Stage: This truly is a broadway level of show. I saw this years ago the same week as when the live action movie was being released. I cried. I actually cried. It's a great break in the day in some shade to enjoy a Disney classic!
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