It was time to go! Walt Disney World was calling my name and I needed a Disney “fix.” I grabbed my daughter and we recently headed down for a quick girls’ weekend trip. We stayed at the beautiful Wilderness Lodge. The resort is located on Bay Lake and is just a quick boat ride over to Magic Kingdom. The resort was amazing, the weather was just about perfect, and I’m happy to share that the magic is still everywhere at Walt Disney World. As I reflect back on our trip I wanted to share my top four takeaways from this recent visit.
The Convenience of Where You Stay is Important
Not all resort or hotel locations are created equal. Staying on property at Disney resort is not only a huge convenience for your Walt Disney World vacation but it is a time saver and often a sanity saver. Many times I have heard people comment “I just need a place to sleep. I won’t be in my room much” when they are thinking about where to stay. That way of thinking leaves out a lot of variables from the equation including the convenience factor. When selecting a resort you want to take into consideration resort features including:
- Close proximity to the parks you plan to spend the most time
- Transportation options to the parks
- Availability of food and dining options that your family will enjoy
- Recreation and pool amenities if you plan to take a day “off” from the parks and enjoy your resort
- Location of your room in relation to transportation and the main building
Get to the Parks Early
The early bird rides the rides! Many of the parks are opening 30-45 minutes prior to the advertised opening time. On our most recent visit, we walked into Magic Kingdom 45 minutes before the posted opening time, and over at Epcot, we passed through the main entrance about 35 minutes before the official start time. These few extra minutes are a great time to hit some of the parks’ most popular attractions.
Transportation from the parks is running about an hour before the park opening time. Even when, for example, the signage at the Wilderness Lodge boat dock said transportation wasn’t starting until 30 minutes prior to the opening time of Magic Kingdom it actually arrived a little more than an hour before the park opening time.
Epcot is a Little Bit of a Mess
Epcot is a challenge to maneuver right now due to all the construction. Disney is currently in the process of revamping Epcot with new attractions, an entry area, a restaurant, and a nighttime show. Much of this construction is taking place near the front of the park in Future World. Large walls redirect guests around the center of Future World where the new roller coast Guardians of the Galaxy is under construction.
This park has always felt a little light on activities for young elementary and preschool-aged children, but right now the void feels a little larger. Some fun activities enjoyed by little ones that are missing from the park right due to COVID-19 are the indoor play areas in the Imagination Pavilion and the Mission Space Advanced Training Lab. Over in World Showcase, the various performances located throughout many of the countries have been placed on hold. When Disney closed down last year, many of the Cast Members from the various countries responsible for the street performances had to return home and have yet to return to Walt Disney World.
On the bright side, any day now the family-friendly new attraction Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will be opening in France. In addition to the new Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster, Moana’s Journey of the Water attraction is also in the works. These new attractions along with the new Space 2020 restaurant will definitely add more activities that the whole family will enjoy
Having Dining Reservations is Still Beneficial
Even though there are lower crowds levels right now at the parks and resorts, it is still helpful to have some dining reservations for your visit. While there are plenty of quick-service locations where reservations are not needed, it is still nice to be able to walk up to a restaurant and have a table secured for a set time for your family. I think dining reservations are a great opportunity for families to gather together, unwind, and relax a little from the hustle of moving about the park. Remember, dining reservations open up 60 days prior to your first vacation day.
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