What to know on a first time trip to Walt Disney World, Florida

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I was lucky enough to collaborate with Walt Disney World this Easter to show you the magical adventures that await at Walt Disney World. Disney World is truly the happiest place on earth. As an adult or child, Walt Disney World is guaranteed to be an amazing trip to remember.

I took a few days off work to celebrate Easter & have a holiday/vacation at Walt Disney World with 2 fabulous Irish ladies that arrived from my hometown, Galway. When at Walt Disney World, we went to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios. Below, I have outlined highlights for each of the 4 Walt Disney World Parks we visited and also some top tips for visiting Walt Disney World for the first time.

All of the Walt Disney World parks are incredibly different so I highly recommend visiting all of the parks for a full Walt Disney World experience.

What to know on a first time trip to Walt Disney World, Florida: Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is hands down my favorite Walt Disney World park because it is the original park and has the magical Walt Disney World castle. Magic Kingdom has the most amazing firework display at night that is not to be missed. It is an enchanting display of color and film projected on the castle with a backdrop of the most amazing firework display.

Magic Kingdom is huge and needs a full day to explore. Magic Kingdom is divided into multiple areas including Tomorrowland & Fantasyland. Must sees here are Splash Mountain, Thunder Rail Road, meeting Princess Merida from Brave (of course), the Frozen Musical & the tea cups to be whirled back to your childhood.

It was at Magic Kingdom that I got to meet my fabulous twin and take pictures with children dressed up as a Disney Princess. Life Goal to be a Disney Princess complete.

What to know on a first time trip to Walt Disney World, Florida: Epcot

From Epcot expect, a trip around the world in one day. Epcot boasts the most amazing display of countries within one park. Epcot is divided into countries where you can explore the local cuisine, famous landmarks and feel like you are in each of the countries.

Italy is modeled on Venice & Milan where there are gondolas, authentic Italian fare, homemade gelato & the most beautiful architecture. The Eiffel Tower overlooks France and of course has an amazing bakery & wine/champagne by the glass.

Mexico, China, Japan, Germany, England and many more countries are must sees within Epcot. There are different cultural shows & musicians who play in each country at Epcot.

Epcot blooms for a number of weeks per year, where the park is transformed into a rolling garden of flowers & greenery. Shrubs, flowers & nature are shaped to form Disney Characters. This is a must see at Epcot. There is also a butterfly garden with 100s of colorful & rare butterflies fluttering through the protected garden.

What to know on a first time trip to Walt Disney World, Florida: Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is a delight for animal lovers. Adventure on a safari and see animals such as giraffes, elephants, flamingos, Rhinos and much more at Animal Kingdom. The tour guide makes you feel as though you are trekking through Africa and it is an experience that I highly recommend at this Walt Disney World park.

Animal Kingdom is again, completely different to the other Walt Disney World parks offering lots of different cuisines, music & trails. I highly recommend the Lion King show, Expedition Everest, the Safari & the water rapids if you don’t mind getting a little wet at Walt Disney World’s Epcot.

What to know on a first time trip to Walt Disney World, Florida: Hollywood Studios

Take a trip behind the scenes of Hollywood in this Walt Disney World park. Hollywood studios is a more relaxing park with less walking as there are lots of shows, musicals & documentaries to see & less rides. I love the little streets in Hollywood Studios and how it gives an insight into the movie world & behind the scenes.

The Twilight Tower of Terror ride can be found at Hollywood Studios which is a lift that navigates through a haunted hotel and then completely plunges down floors upon floors after reaching the top of the hotel.

It is my favorite ride at Hollywood Studios. Highly recommend all of the shows at Hollywood Studios park as they are all unique and so well created.

What to know on a first time trip to Walt Disney World, Florida: Hollywood Studios.

15 Tips for what to know on a first time Walt Disney World trip

Tip #1 The Disney World App

The Disney World App is a life saver and a must for a successful trip to Walt Disney World . Once downloaded, it shows you an interactive map of the Walt Disney World parks, provides navigation throughout the Walt Disney World parks, it shows wait times at each attraction and dining options including menus and cuisine type.

You can also locate where Walt Disney World photographers are (see Tip#6). Photos taken by Walt Disney World park photographers can be viewed on the app after. There are lots of other brilliant features on the app, however these were my go to’s during my trip.

Tip #2 FastPass at Disney World

FastPass is also a must prior to going to the Walt Disney World parks. It allows you to reserve a specific time for an attraction/ride and skip long lines at the Walt Disney World parks by doing so. This is a must for getting through the parks & seeing the top attractions. The larger & most popular attractions at all of the Walt Disney World parks have the option of fastpass tickets.

You can select three FastPasses per day and then get more FastPasses after you have used your FastPass for the day. It is best to select FastPass times in the morning so you can use your FastPasses and get more later to save time. Fastpass is available online a month prior to your park days so get planning and make the most of your Walt Disney World trip.

Tip #3 Dining at Disney World

There are lots of dining options at Walt Disney World from fancy sit down to grab & go. I usually eat in one of the more casual dining restaurants as you don’t need a booking.

There are amazing treats throughout the Walt Disney World parks too such as sundaes, candied apples, popcorn, baked goods, tarts and much more. You need all the energy for Disney World so make sure you treat yourself.

Tip #4 Park Hours at Disney World

Walt Disney World Park hours vary from day to day and season. It is best to check Disney World’s website for the most up to date hours. I visited Walt Disney World at Easter so there were extended hours due to the holiday.

Magic hours can also be purchased at Walt Disney World for an additional amount which allows you to go to the park earlier than other ticket holders and stay longer.

Tip #5 Tickets Available at Disney World

Tickets per Walt Disney World park per day are available and also park hopper tickets which allow you to visit more than one Walt Disney World park per day with the same ticket. I had this option, however, we stayed in one Walt Disney World park per day as I had the time & wanted to see lots in each park.

The price of the daily entry to the Walt Disney World parks go down significantly the longer you stay. There are lots of great add ons to Walt Disney World tickets that you can get that vary seasonally.

Tip #6 PhotoPass at Disney World

There are Walt Disney World photographers onsite daily and sprinkled across the Walt Disney World parks. The Walt Disney World photographers are always at Character meet & greets, in front of major attractions & work morning to evening.

This was my first time using the PhotoPass service at Walt Disney World as previously we took all photos ourselves. If you are getting the Walt Disney World photo pass, make sure you are spotting those photographers & making use of the service as it is a one fee charge no matter how many photos you have taken during your time at Walt Disney World.

Tip #7 Transportation to Disney World

All Walt Disney World Hotels offer free shuttles to the parks which are so useful. The majority of neighboring hotels offer free shuttles too. If you miss the shuttles, Uber is very affordable and useful. I prefer taking the shuttles & Uber rather than renting a car, driving & parking as parking is expensive daily & the car will sit there for the day.

Tip #8 What to Wear at Disney World

Wear comfortable shoes at Walt Disney World. There is lots of walking around and comfort is key! Wear comfy clothes also. I always wear floaty dresses to Walt Disney World parks as they are my go to for comfort.

Tip #9 Where to Stay at Disney World

Disney Hotels are absolutely beautiful! A number of years ago, I stayed at the Disney Swan Resort which was fabulous. There are lots of different options in the Disney World area which, as mentioned above, all offer shuttles to the hotels. I would recommend staying nearby Walt Disney World as days at the park are often long and no one needs a trek back to their hotel after a day of happiness & running around.

Tip #10 When to go to Disney World

I have been to Walt Disney World multiple times & three of these times have been on the long Easter weekend. This is one of the busiest times at Disney World. I am fine with crowds, however, if you prefer a quieter time, I would suggest skipping this time of the year. When planning, remember summer in Florida is incredibly hot & can have lots of rain & thunderstorms so I would avoid these months.

Tip #11 Water Parks at Disney World

There are two Disney water parks also, which I have never been to. My friends visited these parks before I arrived and rated them highly. These parks are perfect for when the weather is really hot.

Tip #12 Park Maps at Disney World

At the entrance to each Walt Disney World park, Disney World has a paper map of the park pinpointing all of the attractions and giving a brief overview of each. At the park entrance, there will also be a times schedule which will outline the times of special shows, performances, musicals etc for that particular week. Although I loved using the app, I also loved having the paper map as a quick reference guide.

Tip #13 Character Meet & Greets at Disney World

There are characters dotted throughout the park and are available for meet & greets throughout the day. My favorite meet & greet was naturally Princess Merida from Brave. I got to meet my favorite princess & take photos with the CUTEST children later in the day.

It is amazing how happy children are to meet their favorite princesses & this was the sweetest experience. The Walt Disney World character wait times can vary depending on the time of day & popularity of the character.

Tip #14 Disney Merchandise at Disney World

There is the most AMAZING merchandise at Walt Disney World so leave room in your suitcase for any Walt Disney World purchases. Disney have created absolutely everything from cups, plates, glasses, bags, purses, t shirts, PJ’s, kitchenware, Christmas ornaments, make up, jewelry, hair care and more.

Tip #15 Night Time Shows at Disney World

Each Walt Disney World park has a night time show that is truly spectacular. The shows are on each night and no matter how many times you see the shows, they are enchanting & uplifting. My favorite show at Walt Disney World is the show at Magic Kingdom where the castle becomes alive and there is a vivid & spectacular back drop from shooting fireworks.

I think I have seen this Walt Disney World show more than 10 times and each time, I fall more in love with Disney World. Grab your spot for the shows a half an hour before the show start time or more if the park is very busy. It is worth it for a good viewing spot and you can take it as a good time to relax. I love to grab an ice cream and relax in my viewing spot before the show comes on.

These are my top tips for visiting Walt Disney World in Florida. Hope you have the most amazing trip to Disney World! It is one of my favorite holidays ever & I know you will have a magical time at Walt Disney World.

What to know on a first time trip to Walt Disney World, Florida: Ears are a must at Epcot & throughout the World Disney Parks

Thank you to Disney World for sponsoring this blog post and for the most amazing adventures.

About Lorna Ryan

Lorna's fashion & beauty journey began on runways, including NYFW, which sparked her love for all things chic. Lorna spent two years as a SephoraSquad ambassador, sharing hero beauty products. Lorna unveils coveted beauty gems, the latest fashion trends, and best-kept jetsetter escapes.

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