Florida, USA

A first-timers essential guide to Disneyworld, Florida

After I had SO much fun at Disneyland in LA, I decided I wanted to visit the other Disney theme park in the USA and head to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida! I had talked to a few friends beforehand and come to the conclusion that although DisneyLAND was doable in one day, DisneyWORLD would definitely multiple days – I decided on doing two days and two parks. For those that don’t know, Disneyworld has five main parks and a few extra smaller ones. After discussing with friends, I decided I would visit Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom and leave the others for a future visit.

(Make sure to check out my guide for visiting Disneyland, California, here)

A million people, always…

As I found with Disneyland, a number of online guides to the theme parks were written with kids and families in mind. I thought I could write an informative guide for solo people like myself who still want to have a great visit!

It’s aaaalways awkward asking a stranger to take your photo…

Here are my recommendations for the ideal day at Disneyworld:

Purchase your tickets online before you get there. This saves queuing up to buy them. Parking does cost $20 extra and I don’t think you can purchase this beforehand (correct me if I’m wrong!).

Aim to get to the park an hour before it opens. This allows parking time, walking to the entrance, getting on the monorail which takes you to the main gate (Magic Kingdom), time to go through bag check and ticket checks.

For Magic Kingdom, don’t bother with Main Street as your arrive. The shops stay open until super late so come back when the rides are crazy busy or on your way out.

I highly suggest going to the popular rides first thing, when lines are less than 30 minutes long. However, make note of the rides that utilize solo rider lanes. These can be done anytime during your visit as you never have to wait too long (the idea of solo riders lanes is that if there is an odd number in a group and they need just one extra person to fill the ride, you get to jump in. You can go into the solo riders lane as a group but you WILL get split up. But it is an efficient way to jump the queues!).

Unfortunately, compared to Disneyland, Disneyworld is seriously lacking on the solo rider lines. Magic Kingdom has zero solo rider lines and Animal Kingdom only has one; instead, utilize your Fast Pass for popular rides which can be done using the App (My Disney Experience in the app store) up to 30 days before your visit (and you get three free passes per park).

At present, the only ride with a solo rider lane at Animal Kingdom is Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. Therefore I would do this ride when all the other rides are crazy busy (see further in the post about some crazy wait times).

It was almost more beautiful at night time!

With all of this in mind, see my following suggestions for planning your day:

Magic Kingdom:

Head to Fantasyland first thing and get the “kids” rides out of the way as wait times for these increases as the day goes on – Peter Pans Flight, “it’s a small world”, Enchanted Times with Belle, Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mad Tea Party and Prince Charming Regal Carousel (see the end of this post for explanations on every ride).

If you’re looking for thrilling rides and not wanting to waste time on calmer rides, then skip this section (the rides are classics but definitely a lot chiller than the rest).

There is one ride in this area that is definitely not aimed at kids at that is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, so do this while you’re here if you dare!

Next head to the Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square on your way to Adventureland. Once in Adventureland, hit up the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise.

After this, head to Frontierland for some thrilling rides: Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. In all honesty, I didn’t actually go on Splash Mountain at Disneyworld. The one at Disneyland traumatized me for life and I didn’t want to get completely soaking wet!

If you have extra time at the end of your day, head back to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and ride it after the sun has gone down. It’s a completely different experience and so much fun!

Next up, Tomorrowland. If you’re short on time, skip Tomorrowland Speedway. I didn’t enjoy this ride and thought it was probably the worst one at the park. But if you’ve got enough time then try it out and let me know what you think! Instead I would suggest heading to Space Mountain or Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin. I also tried to visit Carousel of Progress while here but it was broken..

I was so focused on shooting those bad guys on the Buzz ride, I had no idea a photo was being taken!

That’s majority of the main rides done! But it’s not just the rides that make Disneyworld a fun place to visit – it’s also the smaller shows and movies that make the whole experience a day to remember.

So if you’ve got some spare time, either waiting for your fast pass tickets to be ready or you just want a break from standing in queues, visit one (or all) of the following: Mickeys PhilharMagic (Fantasyland), Country Bear Jamboree (Fronteirland), Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room (Adventureland), and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (Tomorrowland). The lines for these are generally a lot smaller than the main rides (some have lines less than 5 minutes which is a dream).

Most importantly: don’t forget the street parties and fireworks shows! You can check the times and details of these on the app or on the website. My favorite was the Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After light and fireworks shows which featured Disney characters on the side of the castle. And if meeting the characters is your thing, there’s loads of chances throughout the day so check the app/website for details on this too (although wait times can be pretty bad).

The fireworks show was incredible!

Next up, my recommendations for Animal Kingdom:

How many animals can you see in the tree trunk?

I would recommend heading to Pandora – The World of Avatar as soon as the park opens. There’s only two rides here but these two rides get SO popular that wait times were over 300 minutes long at one point (that’s over 5 hours!). I personally didn’t enjoy the Na’vi River Cruise that much, but that could be because I’m never seen the film… The Avatar Flight of Passage ride however, was absolutely incredible. Hands down best ride at any theme park I have ever been to! But definitely don’t do it if you’re afraid of heights. It’s all 3D but it can be a little nauseating during some points.

Next head to Africa where you’ll find Kilimanjaro Safaris – what I feel like a real safari would be like. You totally forget you’re in the middle of Florida!

Follow the park around to Asia and hit up Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain (don’t forget to use the solo rider line on this one!).

I was a taaad scared on this one…

Next up is Dinoland where you’ll have to go on the Dinosaur ride. Tip for this one: when you head into the dark room to watch the film before the ride, go and stand near the door on the far side of the room. You’ll be in line first and possible further up than where you were outside in the queue.

Now, to be honest, that’s majority of the main rides done. BUT, just liked I mention previously, the shows, and movies made Disneyworld the most amazing place to visit. So make sure you don’t miss the following shows when you go: ‘It’s tough to be a bug’ (Discovery Island), Flights of Wonder show, Finding Nemo – The Musical (Dinoland), Festival of the Lion King (Africa), and the Rivers of Light (Asia).

Finding Nemo show was so well done!

Make sure you check the website or app for other show times on when you’re visiting.

As with Disneyland, I find the food at Disneyworld to be sub-par at best. I was super happy to bring a backpack full of food and could eat it while standing in line for rides which meant no wasted time trying to find good food! One novelty food purchase here was Mickey Mouse pretzels. Taste was okay but how cute are they?!

Mickey Mouse pretzel was totally worth it for the photo!

My two days at Disneyworld were definitely something I will never forget – including how sore my feet were afterwards! I did a 14 hour day followed by a 17 hour day (this day included two ride waiting times of two hours each…)– mainly because I didn’t have a guide like this to tell me what to do and when!

I hope this guide helps you plan your visit to the magical Disneyworld and let me know if you have any questions! And don’t forget to check out the Shop part of my website for a free $25 from Booking.com!

Courtney xo

Magic Kingdom rides:

Peter Pans Flight: a ride which makes you feel like you’re flying (very similar to Disneyland).

“it’s a small world”: calm river ride with the theme of around the world. I love that it includes the song in different languages.

Enchanted Times with Belle: acting out the story of Belle and the Beast using audience members. Really good but definitely directed towards kids. The kids in my group though were sooo cute!

Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid: relaxing ride set “under the sea”.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: relaxing ride, a classic for Winnie lovers.

Mad Tea Party: a fun, and iconic ride around in teacups.

Prince Charming Regal Carousel: iconic, classic rice but not as exciting as expected.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: fast and kinda scary rollercoaster.

Haunted Mansion: pretty dark and scary ride, but calm (no crazy drops or anything). Great special effects (very similar to Disneyland).

Pirates of the Caribbean: slow river ride with a small drop in darkness. Amazing set scenery (very similar to Disneyland).

Jungle Cruise: slow river ride with funny commentary from the skipper (very similar to Disneyland).

Splash Mountain: HUGE drop, kinda scary and definitely WET (very similar to Disneyland).

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: wild and fun rollercoaster. It does go fast so don’t be fooled in the slow sections. Fun at night time.

Tomorrowland Speedway: pretty lame car driving ride, you can’t go very fast and the steering is pretty iffy.

Space Mountain: quite scary and dark roller coaster, can be done at night (very similar to Disneyland).

Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin: video game styled ride, (very similar, but not as good as Disneyland)

Mickeys PhilharMagic: awesome 3D movie which includes a whole bunch of Disney characters but Mickey barely stars in it.

Country Bear Jamboree: awesome music show using life-sized bear puppets.

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room: musical with puppet birds. I personally didn’t like it but each to their own.

Monsters Inc. Laugh Factory: really good live comedy using Monsters Inc. characters as well as audience members.

Animal Kingdom rides:

Na’vi River Journey: slow boat ride, not very exciting and not very good effects.

Avatar Flight of Passage: 3d ride in a motorbike position. Absolutely amazing but don’t go if you get motion sickness or afraid of heights.

Kilimanjaro Safari: real life animal safari including elephants, lions and giraffes.

Kali River Rapids: medium paced river cruise with a small drop. You definitely get wet, maybe even soaked.

Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain: fast rollercoaster that even goes backwards at some points

Dinosaur: fun ride, not scary

‘It’s tough to be a bug’: awesome 3D show, including sounds and special effects. Can be a little scary for kids.

Flights of Wonder: bird show with live birds including a bald eagle.

Finding Nemo – The Musical: live Broadway style show playing out the film – super good.

Festival of the Lion King: best thing at the park. Broadway style show including incredible acrobatics.

Rivers of Light: lake show at night with lights, water and special effects.


If you want more tips on using the Fastpass system, check it out here: Disney World Fastpass Secrets

Bonus point: Disneyworld is not far from the world’s largest McDonalds store! Check it out while visiting Orlando, Florida.


Liking and sharing is appreciated!

52 thoughts on “A first-timers essential guide to Disneyworld, Florida

  1. The Mickey mouse pretzel is hysterical 🙂 Taking your advise on the food backpack and the ahead of time mapping and planning of rides. We are going to visit the Paris Disneyland in June – I need to get familiar with all it has to offer.

    1. Hahaha I know right?! I just HAD to try one. I’d love to go to the Paris one – you should let me know if any of the rides are the same!

  2. Well, this is a helpful guide. I have never been to either places, as I am not into theme parks or Disney that much. But I do plan on someday going and this is all helpful little tips to consider. And it’s nice to read an account for going as an adult without children.

    1. I never thought I was either (these were my first ever theme parks and I’m not a massive Disney person) but I can seriously tell you these were the best days ever! I hope you get to go one day 🙂

  3. I REALLY want to visit Disney World. Magic Kingdom is definitely somewhere I’d love to go. I’ve heard about getting the magic passes for fast entry and also to be able to pay on your pass wristbands for food etc. I’d be coming from London, UK so will need to look into it more. Thanks for this post! Very helpful!

  4. Last December I visited California and love the theme parks there. Coming back to America and visiting the other side of the country is in my bucket list. I am glad to come across this blog about Disney World Florida as I am planning to go in these two year time. Love how the roller coaster is built so vertical and gosh it is so scary but that is the fun thrill part!

  5. Great guide. I have been to both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom, and I prefer Disneyland (maybe because it was the first one I visited). Yes, you should purchase tickets online early and arrive early. It has been many years since we visited Animal Kingdom, so Pandora was not there. It would be worth a return trip to see that world.

  6. I’ve been only to Disneyland in Hong Kong and (aeons ago) Anaheim. If I ever find myself in Disneyworld, your personal recommendations will be extremely handy. What food did you pack for the trips to the parks?

    1. Thanks for the question! I took a banana, muffin, sandwich, cheese and crackers. This did me for most of the day with me buying a mickey pretzel and a churro too (can’t go to a Disney theme park and not have a churro!).

    1. Wow! That’s so cool. I’d love to do the Paris one too. I hope you make it to the USA ones at some point 🙂

  7. Great useful tips! I’d love to visit Disneyworld too, and it’s so good to know that you can’t see it all in just one day. Love your recommendations! I’m definitely on for trying out all the rides (even the thrilling rides) , though I’ll maybe skip the Splash Mountain, not unless I have spare clothes with me. LOL. I’ve fell in love with Disney shows too, so I’d love to check out ‘It’s tough to be a bug’, Flights of Wonder show, and Finding Nemo – The Musical!

    1. Yeah getting wet wasn’t ideal but Orlando is so humid you dry out super quick! I hope you get to visit sometime soon 🙂

    1. I went the week of Thanksgiving and it was quite busy but I have nothing to compare it too?! I assume it’s always pretty busy though! I would avoid weekends though!

  8. I love Disneyworld! I haven’t been since I was young, and I’ve been itching to go back. I’m actually going to LA next month, and I was debating on going to Disneyland since I’ve never been. I’ll have to check out your post!

    1. Yessss you need to go back! I can’t get over how much fun I had there and truly can’t wait to go back again hahah.

  9. I’ve only been to Disneyland in Tokyo, but your experience sounds as exciting and enjoyable as mine. Definitely get the passes which will shorten your waiting time tremendously (but be prepared for jealous stares from the normal queue)! 🙂

  10. Lol I loved your honesty in this post. It’s true, there are some rides that aren’t as great as they appear. Though I’d like to to try the Avatar one, just as I’ve heard so much about it!

  11. I’ve never been to Disneyworld but I found your post is full with great tips. The Avatar sounds interesting though the wait line doesn’t. When did you go? High season, low season? Weekdays, weekend?

    1. I went the week of Thanksgiving and it was quite busy but I have nothing to compare it too?! I assume it’s always pretty busy though! I would avoid weekends though!

  12. Disneyworld, no matter where, needs perperation. Particularly if you are visiting there for a day only. Your tips are really useful. We went to Disneyland Paris last year. And we did do some of the things that you suggest here like purchasing tickets in advance online, heading to the main street later on, reaching early etc. They helped us save time.

  13. The lighted castle is amazing! My father who now lives in the US has shown me photos of his visit in Disneyland. I’m way past being a child, yet it would be absolutely awesome to visit there to rekindle my childhood.

    1. I’m 27 and I went by myself and had the MOST amazing time! I think any age will have fun at a Disney theme park 🙂

  14. The Mickey pretzel is priceless. I’ve been to Disney in FL as a kid but had to leave after 30 min. because my mother got severely sick. Would definitely like to take a trip back. These are some great tips. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hahaha I know right? So cute. But I’m sorry to hear that – that’s such a horrible experience to have as a kid. You were probably super excited to be there too. I hope you get to go back one day!

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