unlock the magic of Disney World

Your family's fastpass to the most magical place on earth
By Child magazine

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It is fitting that Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is sold as “the most magical place on earth”. Ask a child where in the world they would most like to visit and, chances are, their answer will be “Disney World”. And it’s not only the under-18s who think so.
The Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disney World, is the world’s most visited Disney resort. With over 52 million visitors annually – almost the entire population of South Africa – you’d be forgiven for thinking this ‘Small World’ is in fact rather large and a bit intimidating to navigate.
What to do
With four theme parks and two water parks, planning is the magic ingredient. Each park offers a different experience, so research which park and attractions your family would enjoy the most. Here’s where all the fun and excitement happens:
  • Magic Kingdom: Home to all your favourite Disney characters, rides and thatfairytale castle.
  • Epcot: Lots to learn and ignite your imagination – visit Future World and the World Showcase, featuring 11 countries.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: The world of music, theatre, television and movies.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Safaris, expeditions, and treks through the world’s wilderness areas all in one park.
  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon: A giant wave pool, waterslides and H20 Glow Nights, this one’s for water babies the world over.
  • Disney’s Blizzard Beach: A one-time ski resort melting into a water wonderland, with raft rides, a one-acre wave pool and, our favourite, Ski Patrol Training Camp.
"Everybody plans to do a park a day and by the third day, they’re exhausted,” says Missy Maguire, a former travel agent specialising in Disney vacations. She suggests that you plan for a park a day, but schedule rest time and a few extra days in between. “You are allowed to leave and re-enter parks on the same day. Don’t be afraid to take naps, no matter how old you are.”
Ideally, visitors need a week at Disney World. If you only have one day and are travelling with small kids, then rather visit the Magic Kingdom. “And, whatever you do, don’t miss the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks show,” Maguire says. “The show uses choreographed projection mapping on Cinderella’s Castle and pyrotechnics to create a truly magical spectacle. There is no better way to end a day at Disney World.”
When to go
Disney World is a magical experience 365 days of the year, so it is always busy. Maguire suggests visiting in October or November, as it is not as hot, humid or rainy as in the summer months and there are fewer tour groups.
The whole Disney World experience is designed for families and presents a wonderful opportunity to make some precious memories. So, if there was ever a perfect family getaway, this is it.
4 top tips to make your Disney World experience fantastic
  1. have a plan: Go with a plan, but know that it will change. It is about finding that balance. Also, check your planned itinerary with Disney’s calendar, as some attractions may actually be closed to accommodate events.
  2. download the app: The key to unlocking the magic of Disney World won’t be found under a pot plant alongside the door of Cinderella’s Castle. It is on your mobile device. Download the ‘My Disney Experience App’ to see real-time queue wait times, book Fastpasses and even pre-order food. You’ll still have to queue, but many of these are interactive and will keep you entertained.
  3. ask the experts: Disney employees, called cast members, are there to help. Each park has a guest relations area, and there are cast members stationed around the parks to offer insider tips.
  4. schedule downtime: Embrace your inner Sleeping Beauty and schedule in time for a nap now and then.
Randsaver tips: You don’t have to pay Disney prices for food. Grab an Uber to a Walgreens or Walmart nearby and buy some snacks. You’re allowed to bring food into the parks. You also don’t have to stay at a Disney resort. There are many hotels close to Disney World that offer benefits and perks. Staying on-site is convenient though and can save you time thanks to complimentary transfers.

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