My husband and I are going to disneyworld for a Friday and Saturday in April. We trying to decide on 2 parks to visit, so we can save a little money by getting the one-park-per-day ticket instead of the park hopper. I have no idea what there is to do in the non-magic kingdom parks.
The Disney website is a bit overwhelming to me, so I thought I'd ask you if you could give me a quick summary of the parks and maybe a recommendation.
We've been to Disneyland, by we wouldn't mind going to magic kingdom. Our top priority is rides, and we'd probably skip the more little-kid-ish ones like Peter Pan or Small World. We haven't done any of the shows before and don't really care about meeting characters.
Any thoughts to which 2 parks will be the best for us?
-Conference in Orlando
Dear Conference Woman,
In your situation, I would probably recommend going to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, but for your reference I'll discuss each park and its pros and cons.
Magic Kingdom is the most iconic park at Walt Disney World, home to Cinderella castle and classic attractions like Dumbo and Pirates of the Caribbean. It is separated into six themed lands that house various attractions, entertainment, and eateries: Main Street U.S.A., Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Liberty Square, Frontierland, and Adventureland.
Pros: Magic Kingdom is the park with the most attractions, and since you specify that rides are most important to you, that's a big plus. It's also home to some of the most popular and well-known attractions, so if you have fond memories of riding the Jungle Cruise or Big Thunder Mountain in Disneyland, it can hold a lot of nostalgia. With so much to see and do, it's easy to spend a whole day in this one park.
Cons: Magic Kingdom does tend to be one of the more crowded parks, and it is home to a lot of rides geared towards smaller kids, like Peter Pan. A one-day ticket to MK is also slightly more expensive than a one-day ticket to the other parks.
Epcot was Walt Disney's brainchild, originally meant to be a futuristic city where cast members would live, or an "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow." While that vision didn't exactly work out, Epcot does have two major themed areas: Future World and the World Showcase. Future World is a bit of a misnomer, because I wouldn't necessarily call it futuristic anymore, but it's home to classic attractions like Spaceship Earth and Test Track. The World Showcase features 12 different pavilions celebrating the history and culture of various nations, from Mexico to Morocco.
Pros: Epcot is very unique, as theme parks go, as it has a slightly more educational bent than the other parks. Perusing the world showcase and exploring the wide variety of shops, dining, and entertainment is a truly incredible way to pass a day. There are also some really awesome rides, like Soarin' Around the World which offers stunning views of great architectural achievements. Epcot probably has the best food options of any of the 4 parks, because you can grab a French pastry for breakfast then jump over to China for lunch. Epcot also features some amazing shows and entertainment from performers throughout the World Showcase, from Japanese drummers to French mimes.
Cons: Epcot doesn't have a huge plethora of rides the way Magic Kingdom does. It's home to Soarin', the Seas with Nemo and Friends, Journey into Imagination, Spaceship Earth, Test Track, Mission: Space, Frozen Ever After, and the Gran Fiesta Tour. Some of those are amazing, and others I could easily recommend skipping (particularly Journey into Imagination and the Gran Fiesta Tour, unless you're a huge The Three Caballeros fan).
Hollywood Studios is themed to the classic films and culture of Hollywood. While it is undergoing quite a bit of refurbishment right now, it's home to exciting attractions like Star Tours and The Tower of Terror.
Pros: Some of Disney's most thrilling rides can be found in Hollywood Studios, and there also some shows that are worth seeing. It's also home to my favorite attraction, Toy Story Midway Mania. They have super cool street performances from aspiring actors and actresses. HS also has my favorite nighttime spectacular, Fantasmic, featuring Mickey Mouse and his vivid imagination.
Cons: Hollywood Studios is currently receiving a bit of a facelift, with Toy Story land scheduled to open sometime this summer, and Galaxy's Edge (Star Wars) sometime next year. HS could really use those additions, because currently there are only 4 rides in the entire park: Toy Story Midway Mania, Star Tours, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, and the Tower of Terror. Those are all awesome rides, but unless you specifically want to see shows like Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage or the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, it's hard to fill an entire day. To be clear, most of their shows are good and worth seeing, but if rides are your priority, Hollywood Studios might not be your cup of tea (or noncaffeinated beverage of your choice).
Animal Kingdom is meant to bring us in closer contact with the world of animals than we could otherwise come. It's the newest of Disney's WDW theme parks, and home to the newest land as well (Pandora: World of Avatar). It's various themed lands are designed to ingratiate us with the animal world and allow us to experience animals of the past, present, and imagination. Animal Kingdom is also big into animal education and conservation, so if you're interested in learning about animals and how you can help protect them and their habitats, this is the park for you.
Pros: Animal Kingdom houses some truly incredible attractions, ones that I highly recommend nobody miss. Kilimanjaro Safari takes you through various ecosystems on an African safari, where you'll see real life animals like okapi and elephants. Because the animals are free to wander as they see fit (within reason, of course), every safari will be a unique experience, and you'll get different guides who share facts about the animals you see. Expedition Everest is my favorite roller coaster on Disney property. And one of the newest attractions, Avatar Flight of Passage, is by general consensus one of the most visually and technologically stunning rides ever. Animal Kingdom also has the best-rated show on Disney property, and for good reason. The Festival of the Lion King is incredible and moving and I adore it.
Cons: In terms of simple numbers, Animal Kingdom doesn't have the highest number of rides, coming in with a total of 8. However, shows like Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical are well worth your time, and it's easy to fill a whole day in this park.
So overall, for your specific purposes, I would recommend Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom. You definitely won't get to see everything Disney has to offer with only two days, but with some good planning you can see the most iconic park and the newest attractions.
I have a couple of pieces of general advice. First, you can book dining reservations now for a trip in April, so if there are any table service locations you're particularly interested in, find a reservation now, if you can. Secondly, if you're staying on Disney property, you can book Fastpasses 60 days in advance, starting at 7 a.m. EST. Rides like Space Mountain, Seven Dwarves Mine Train, and Avatar Flight of Passage tend to have very long wait times, and a Fastpass is almost a necessity, so book one as soon as you can. Like, at 7 a.m. EST 60 days before your arrival. Or 30 days before, if you aren't staying at a Disney resort.
I hope you have a magical vacation! If you have any more specific queries, feel free to ask another question, or you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to help any way I can.