Walt Disney World 2017 – Trip Report
We took our Family to Walt Disney World in Summer 2017 and this is the trip report. We love Disney! Our van broke down, required a partial engine rebuild, and the trip was still awesome. I’ve been going to Disney since I was a kid in the eighties, and I still love it. They have so much to see and do. The food is amazing. It really is a Magical Place! Hopefully, this report will help in your planning, or inspire you to take your family to Disney World. We went to The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and The Animal Kingdom. We will have to take the kids to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on another visit.
So let’s get this mishap out of the way first. Our van blew out a spark plug on I-10 about 30 miles west of Lake City. We were on the way to Disney. We had it towed to a local shop to be repaired. Lucky we had already planned on staying in Lake City, due to the long drive. Then we couldn’t find a rental. We had resort reservations at Disney the next day, Disney fastpasses, Disney restaurant reservations, and no way to get there. There’s not even a bus from Lake City. You can imagine our panic. Eventually, we pleaded, and begged, and the shop loaned us a van so we could continue our trip. Since it was such extensive repairs, it wasn’t ready when we were ready to go home. They had to rebuild the engine header. This added another 3 days to the end of our trip, and added cost for not only the repairs, but additional travel expenses. It took us another 6 months to pay off this unforeseen expense. Ok, so this really sucked, and we were very upset at first, as it looked like we weren’t even going to make it to Orlando. In the end the trip was still awesome, and the kids loved the extra days of vacation. So when you have the unexpected happen, you can still make it a great trip, and you’ll have more to talk about when you get home.
We stayed at the All Star Music Resort. We selected this resort due to the availability of a family suite, as we have a large family. The resort included several swimming pools, gift shop, and a food court. We liked the room. It had a separate bedroom for us adults, and fold out beds in the living area for all the kids. It also had two bathrooms which is very convenient. The resorts theme included large-scale iconic music related props, like large cowboy boots to represent country music. The kids loved the resort and especially like the pool. The food court including many options, but no table service. All of the staff, just like the rest of Disney, is super nice. If you go to Disney, do consider staying in the resort. If for nothing else but the use of Disney Transportation Services. They take you from the Hotel front directly to the theme parks. You don’t have to pay extra for parking, or navigate the huge Disney Parking lots.
Here are the advantages of staying in a Disney Resort:
- use of Disney Transportation Services to the theme parks – the best perk
- gift shop with Official Disney Merchandise
- ability to send shopping from the park to the hotel counter for pick up
- first to be able to select fast passes before non resort guest – you know you want to be first
- all-encompassing Disney experience – Immerse yourself in all that is Disney!
We got the meal plan. We really wanted to go all out and do, see, and eat everything. There are several plans to chose from, but basically you prepay for all your Disney meals. That way you don’t need anything but your Magic Bands to eat. You won’t need to carry your wallet or purse, as it will all be tied to your Magic Band. We chose the most inclusive plan, as we wanted to try all of the nice table service restaurants. So we made reservations in advance for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day in the park. Do make your reservations early, especially if you want to enjoy the Character Dining, as the slots get filled up quickly. Additionally, pre-planning out your reservations will save you time and indecisiveness while at the park. It eliminates those What do you want? I don’t know what do you want? conversations. It may also save you money, as it includes snacks, and may help alleviate impulse buys. We really like to eat, and this was definitely one of the trips highlights. Disney has many food options, so you will find something you like.
Oh and don’t forget Florida is HOT! Be prepared to drink a lot of water. Many of the ques are air-conditioned, but you will be out in the heat a lot. We were there in August, but it’s still hot in October.
As noted above, if you stay in the resort you will have the first run at the fastpasses. Ok, so you get three and then maybe, so they are a limited resource. There are many strategies to picking fastpasses, most popular rides, proximity to your itinerary, early in the day so maybe you get another, etc. I recommend you select your must see attractions. If someone on your crew is a real pirate fan then get “The Pirates of the Caribbean”. Remember this is your trip, see what you what! Do make the reservations early, as your favorite may be taken.
The Magic Kingdom
The Classic Disney Park! The music, the smells, the colors,the taste, the lights, they use every trick under the sun to make you smile. The Cast Members are all so nice. You can laugh, play, and make-believe no matter what your age. If you only have time for one Disney World park, this is it! You can eat dinner in a castle, ride a spaceship, and travel in a boat with pirates all in the same day. We all know it’s fake, but Disney does a great job in making you believe it’s real. I’ve been going since I was a kid, and I’m not tired of it yet. We had breakfast and lunch in a castle (Beast and Cinderella), and dinner on main street. I think that was our most enjoyable meal, dinner on main street at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. We had steaks and they were so yum. The kids loved all the dark rides, like Peter Pan and The Haunted Mansion. We had our 7 month old with us and she could ride everything we rode (we didn’t ride space mountain this trip). Everyone enjoyed the magic kingdom its awesome!
My list of must see Attractions at The Magic Kingdom:
- The Haunted Mansion – I love the ghost
- Space Mountain – roller coaster in the dark
- It’s a small world – still a classic and that song gets stuck in your head
- Pirates of the Caribbean – for a whole lot of fun
- Peter Pan’s Flight – just to fly over London
Fun Line queuing tip for kids tired of waiting in line: Look for the “Hidden Mickeys” they are all over the parks. Just look for the classic Mickey Mouse Head shape (round with two ears) they are all over the parks, hidden in wallpaper, floor tile, landscaping, and other decorations. Just a fun game while waiting in line.
1980’s vision of the future! When I was a kid this was my favorite park. I loved all the futuristic architecture and the World Showcase. I think we went in the opening year, if I remember correctly? There are fewer character driven attractions, although more than when I was a kid. So for our kids this park is not as exciting as the Magic Kingdom. But you can visit the world, relive the past, and dream about the future. I also like the gardens and plants. The whole park is like a botanical garden with flowers and plants everywhere you look. I love the shops in the world showcase. This is the place at Disney World for Shopping. The kids loved Frozen at the Norway Pavilion and Nemo and Friends.
My list of must see Attractions at Epcot:
- Spaceship Earth – you get to ride inside that big ball
- German Pavilion – because they have the Beer Garden, cuckoo clocks, and a model train for the kids
- Frozen – all the kids love it
- French Pavilion – because of the pastry shop
- Japanese Pavilion – Mitsukoshi department store shopping
Epcot Tip: Epcot has fewer shade options than the other parks. There are large expanses of paving and open areas in the full sun. Bring sunblock!
The Animal Kingdom
Disney Characters and Animals! So they have shows, rides, and animals wow! Our kids loved this park. Pandora was super crowded, as it just opened, but everywhere else was not so bad. Disney does a good job with the themes here, and each area of the park really feels authentic, even the floating rocks of Pandora. Additionally, the whole place is like a jungle, so it feels a lot more intimate than Epcot. There are animal displays everywhere mixed in or part of the attractions. We really like the Festival of the Lion King, it’s a serous production! I also talked the older girls into riding Expedition Everest. The que has some really neat themed displays. It’s pretty fast and the girls were just fine until we went in reverse. There was no line so I asked if they wanted to ride again. “NO!” Ok, then off to find the rest of our crew. This is a great park and there is a lot of animal activities for the kids. We also enjoyed the bird show.
My list of Must see Attractions at The Animal Kingdom:
- The Festival of the Lion King – for the showmanship
- Kilimanjaro Safaris – you came to see animals right
- Expedition Everest – Fast and tall coaster
- Na’vi River Journey – beautiful scenery
- Wildlife Express Train – because one of ours loves trains
Tip for traveling with an infant: each of the parks has a baby changing and nursing station. The Magic kingdom is just behind the Crystal Palace on Main Street, Epcot’s is at Odyssey Center just to the left of the Mexican Pavilion, and Animal Kingdoms is at Creature Comforts on Discovery Island just before the bridge to Africa. They have air-conditioned nursing areas with changing tables and a waiting area for the rest of the family. We didn’t go to Hollywood Studios so I can tell you where that one is but it will be on the official map.
We really had a great trip and I hope the kids will remember it always! I even almost convinced a little one monorails are cooler than trains. But alas, they have trains too. I still remember going with my family as a Kid. I really think Disney can inspire kids to dream bigger. It made me want to travel the world and appreciate architecture. Even with the transportation mishap, and the really big bill for repairs, we still made great memories. Take your kids to Disney! They will love it too! Go Artway Today!
Here’s a link to Walt Disney World if you wish to start researching your trip: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com