Disney World Florida 2016 – what we learnt

Over Easter, we were lucky enough to spend 5 nights and 6 days staying at the Coronado Springs resort at Walt Disney World Florida.

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My intention was to write on a daily basis whilst we were away, but we were just too busy enjoying ourselves that I didn’t get around to it!
We had such an amazing time so I wanted to share a few tips and tricks that made it such a great time for us.

1. Fastpasses
With your booking at Disney, you can book your fastpasses. So get planning – ASAP!
We booked our vacation months in advance and as soon as we could, hubby got the app up and running, and we booked our fastpass slots in. At the moment you can book 3 fastpasses per day in a selected park. Once they are used (or the timeslots passed) you can go to a fastpass machine in the park and get some more. I have read that this is changing later this year and you will be able to be a bit more flexible and add your extra fastpasses through the app. The options on the day are limited but there are still some of the decent rides on there. (We didn’t manage to get on the 7dwarfs mine train despite the fastpasses.)

2. Star Wars
Star wars is everywhere but Hollywood Studios is full of it. So if you have any Star Wars fans then get down there! We had 2 big fans and 2 somewhat fans! The fireworks are amazing. Get there about half an hour before they start, in order to grab yourselves the viewing spot you want. The stage shows are great. Also if you hang out at the back of the show you can see the characters getting ready to go on stage. You can’t get close, but they may well engage with you – waving etc.

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The Jedi training for kids is awesome! We didn’t do it as you needed to get to the park early to sign your little ones up (and that was not happening!).

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Keep your eyes open for storm troopers marching around the Star Wars Launch bay area. They talk to you – or at least tell you to step away and so on. The kids loved it!

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3. Dining plan
We were on the moderate dining plan. This was well worth the money. Every meal is 2 courses plus soft drink and the portions are amazing for what they charge. The moderate dining plan includes 1 quick service meal, 1 table service meal, 1 snack and you also get refillable mugs (you can have unlimited refills of soft drinks/coffee in your hotel – but they are also useful to fill with water in the parks from any of the numerous water fountains around the place).

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To enjoy your table service meals in the best restaurants, then book in advance, although you can walk up on the night, but be prepared to wait. We enjoyed dinner in the Maya Grill at the Coronado Springs, the Sci Fi Drive in restaurant in Hollywood Studios, Coral Reef restaurant in Epcot, and the T-rex and Rainforest Cafe at Disney Springs. All were fantastic, although the T-rex was quite slow as they were super busy.
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With all this food we only had to buy breakfast on one morning as we were just so stuffed the rest of the time! Oh and whilst we are on food – the food is gooooood. Perfect steaks every time! And the service – particularly at the table service restaurants – was great.

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4. Memory Maker
We were lucky enough to get this as part of the package deal. The memory maker is linked to the wristbands. Basically wherever you have a photo taken in the parks, by rides, on rides and with characters, all you have to do is present your wristband then the photos are linked to your app. And instead of queuing and spending a fortune on the “official” photos, you can download them to your devices at any time within the next 45 days.

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5. Wifi
There is free wifi everywhere. The hotels have hotel wifi and the parks have park wifi. This can be really useful – a) because you can keep an eye on the disneyworld app – check your fastpasses and reservations, wait times on rides and check out your official photos! But also b) if you get stuck in a big queue then you can keep yourself occupied. Another thing we came across a few times was people using their smartphones to entertain their families (and surrounding strangers!) playing the Heads Up game!

6. Extra magic hours
These are great but you need to check when and where they are available as they are not in every park every day. Early morning – before the main opening times are better for families, but if you have babysitters aka grandparents/other useful travelling companions the late night ones are great. Hubby did this one night while we were all in bed and had a blast on a fair few rides in the 2 hours from 11pm-1am!
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7. Meeting characters
If your kids – or you for that matter! – want to meet characters and collect some autographs then be prepared to queue, but also keep an eye on times that the characters are around and keep your eyes peeled for hidden gems! We struck lucky a couple of times – hubby and Jack stumbled upon Sorcerer Mickey Mouse in Hollywood Studios, with no queue at all, in the Star Wars launch bay there was a 40 minute wait to meet Chewbacca, so we got in the smaller queue right next to it with no idea who we were meeting (as it wasn’t clearly labelled) and met Kylo Ren, and we found Mary Poppins in the Magic Kingdom with no queue! We also found smallish queues to meet Sofia the First, Jake (neverland pirates) and Pluto.
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And finally, if you are lucky enough to be going to Disney World this year we hope you have a magical time and may the force be with you! 🙂

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