I visited Disneyworld in Orlando over the Christmas holidays in 2019 with my wife and kids (age 5 and 2) – specifically Dec 19th to the 24th. This ended up being a perfect time to go because it was just before Christmas so the parks were not too busy (although ramping) and the weather was great - 70s and sunny. From New York, the trip is certainly an easy flight to Orlando and given we would stay on the resort or just go point-to-point to the parks, we relied on Uber throughout the trip. We structured the trip to have a one-day break in the middle of visiting the parks which made everything more relaxing – i.e. we did EPCOT, Magic Kingdom, Hotel day, Animal Kingdom and then back home. We also used a wonderful VIP guide service called World Class VIP (special shoutout to our guides Anthony and Gianna) to take us through Magic Kingdom and then help us plan the other parks, dining, activities etc. We would certainly highly recommend the service to give piece of mind and peacefully optimize the few days spent in Disney. Download the super helpful Disney App and let the planning begin!
We stayed at the wonderful Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort and would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Disney. It has the benefit of essentially being a Disney Hotel (officially an affiliate) while still being a Four Seasons – i.e. it is inside the Disney complex (and the hotl provides free transportation), you have 60 day in advance FastPass+ reservation and Extra Magic Hours privileges (same as a Disney-owned hotel) and the hotel has character breakfasts with Goofy and Friends (definite highlight!) a few times a week. Note for the character breakfasts that only Goofy, Mickey and Minnie come so you have to get your full character experience throughout the parks. The hotel gift shop is also a good place to get the autograph books for the kids to take with them to see the characters. The hotel amenities include an awesome pool and multiple water slides for the kids in addition to a lazy river. An all-around amazing experience.
- Dining: We enjoyed dining at the Four Seasons during our stay with breakfast/dinner at Ravello (Italian), morning grab-n-go before parks at Lickety Split and PB&G for poolside lunch. At the parks, we specifically chose lunch spots in unique places or with characters or so the kids would still have energy and enjoy the end of our parks days – we enjoyed the Italian village at the EPCOT World Showcase and ate at Via Napoli at EPCOT; the World Showcase is an awesome walk around the pond but a must-do there is the Drinking Around The World – which essentially is stopping for drinks / snacks at each of the 11 countries represented in the world showcase pavilion. We hung out with Winnie the Pooh and friends at the Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom and we hung out with Mickey and friends in safari gear at the Tusker House at Animal Kingdom. The best views of the fireworks (outside the parks themselves) can be had during dinner at the California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Outside of Disney, we enjoyed relaxing dinners at Maria & Enzos (Italian) and Uncle Julios (Tex-Mex).
- Activities: This trip primarily focused on our visits to 3 parks – EPCOT, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom – in addition to a day of relaxation at the Four Seasons per the above. Our plan was simple for each park day: 1) early grab-n-go breakfast 2) arrive at the park at the open 3) rides/activities until lunch 4) character or themed lunch 5) parade (if applicable) 6) back to hotel for rest 7) pool 8) dinner 9) sleep 10) start again. The half-day park plan was perfect given the kids age – next time we will come back in the evenings for the fireworks shows. We love taking pictures so we got a PhotoPass (shout out to our World Class VIP guides for giving us theirs for our visit!). Below highlights the rides we did at the parks with an * to indicate rides we were able to get using our advanced or in-park FastPass+. Activities in bold were considered ultimate highlights by the kids.
- EPCOT - Frozen Ever After*, Living with the Land, Soarin' Around the World, Spaceship Earth*, Turtle Talk with Crush, The Seas with Nemo & Friends*
- Magic Kingdom - The Goofy Barnstormer, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, Jungle Cruise, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan’s Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Tomorrowland Speedway
- Animal Kingdom - Avatar Flight of Passage*, Festival of the Lion King*, Kilimanjaro Safaris*, Navi River Journey*, TriceraTop Spin
We would certainly recommend this trip! – especially for a 4-5 day visit. Our plan is to take both the kids when they are each 5-years-old (with other being either 2 or 8) and focus the trip on experiences for that child. We thought this was a perfect blend of stamina, interest and likelihood of remembering. Next time we visit, we will likely swap in Be Our Guest and Cinderella Castle for our daughter and we will certainly come back in the evenings for the Magic Kingdom Fireworks. Make sure to get the Character books from any gift shop as the kids will love getting autographs and pictures with them! Magic Kingdom has a few spots to catch most of the characters (in addition to the hotels). Half days at the parks were certainly a good move for us (coupled with chill time outside the parks) and getting everywhere early meant we could do some popular rides without fastpasses. Like with everything popular, especially dining, make your reservations six months ahead of time or at the earliest chance you can because for Disney everyone is on top of it earlier then you might think (and almost everything is cancellable). Have an amazing trip!