Visiting Disneyland Florida would be on most peoples bucket list and all the more if you have little ones. It is magical but it will be one of the most expensive holidays that you will ever take. Apart from that it is truly a holiday that everyone should experience once in your lifetime. I must admit planning a trip to Disneyland can be daunting especially if it’s your first visit to the mother ship in Florida. I decided to pen down a few tips for people like myself looking to make their maiden voyage to Disneyland – Disneyland first time – Best time to visit Disneyland
What was once just a single park – Magic Kingdom – has fast developed into 4 theme parks and 2 water parks making it the Disney World. To just give you a scale the total area covered by Disney World now is the same as San Francisco.
This is before you start taking into account the shopping areas, Disney Spring and the Universal Studio. It was quite difficult to plan our first trip so I thought of sharing some of my experiences and tips that could help someone visiting for the first time.
Disneyland first time – Best time to visit Disneyland.
What is the best time to visit Disneyland? – There are a few things that you would need to consider before you start planning when you want to visit. It is always a great time to visit Disneyland and experience the magic but Mid-September to November is generally the quietest periods. Another good time is Mid-January to Mid-March.
If you are bound by school holidays like we were (UK school holidays) the best time would be in the Easter break which is normally early April.
The weather is pleasant and not as hot as the summer (it can get very hot from June to August and very busy). The prices for tickets, airfare and accommodation all fluctuate depending on the time of the year you plan to visit. A good place to check peak periods would be the Official Disney Website.
Package Holiday or plan it yourself?
You can either get a package holiday or plan it yourself and I found it much more economical to book it yourself.
The average cost of a package holiday for a family of 4 including flights would cost you anything between £6,000 to £8,000 from the U.K. This would be for flights / 4 star accommodation and park tickets for roughly 7-10 days. This could be much higher during peak holiday periods and a little saving if you travelled in the shoulder season.
We decided to book it ourselves and yes it did save us some ££££.
We booked return flights to New York and then domestic flights internally. Being a major hub you can get some great deals on flights to New York. Internal flights are very affordable and there is plenty of choice when you flying from New York to Orlando. Benefit you get to spend time in New York as well.
Choose your hotel in Orlando and book it direct with the hotel.
If you want to spend more time is Disney stay on International Drive / Bonnet Creek. If you want to spend more time in Universal then stay more towards the airport and around Universal.
Universal Studios is closer to the airport and it is a roughly a 30 minutes’ drive between Disneyland and Universal Studios.
Our Hotel in Orlando was the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek – A Disney property. You can read all about this beautiful property which is a short distance from Magic Kingdom.
Why Choose a Disney property Disneyland first time.
Disney’s hotels are pricey – but you can get some good deals if you travel off peak season. You do get far more from them than just the accommodation. Some of the main benefits are round-the-clock shuttles to every Disney Park. Magic Hours – These get you access to the parks before the public can enter and some offer after hours as well.
Be mindful as there are dedicated days at dedicated park. It is a bit confusing but once you ask your hotel for details it makes it easier. However this means you will have to plan your visit to the parks depending on the days they offer magic hours.
Where to buy your tickets for Disneyland Orlando?
You can buy tickets from many websites but I would go with the official Disney site as these can be trusted and mostly offer similar deals.
You can either buy individual day tickets or get a 7 day or 14 days pass. If this is your first visit I would suggest go with a single day park and not a hopper. It is a long day so try and stick to one park a day and relax in the evening as you will start early again the next day.
A regular admission day ticket costs roughly $109 per person (ages 10+) but take three days and the price drops to $104 a day.
Use the official Disney site for all the information you need – Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.
Hope these tips are helping you plan your Disneyland first time – Best time to visit Disneyland.
Disney Fast Pass – You do not have to pay extra for your fast pass at Disneyland unlike Universal but you will have to plan and book your rides 30 days in advance. If you live in a Disney property you get an advantage of booking fast pass rides 60 days in advance.
It all depends on the parks you want to visit. We had 6 days in total and split this between Universal and Disneyland.
How many parks are there in Disneyland Orlando?
In total Walt Disney World alone has 6 parks – The 4 main theme parks in Disneyland are – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom along with 2 Water Parks – Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon.
Universal has 3 parks in Orlando – Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and a water park – Volcano Bay.
Best way to travel in Orlando – Hire a car or not?
If this is your first visit to Orlando and you are not going to be travelling around my suggestion would be not to hire a car. Yes – Do not hire a car if you will visit the parks only. This did come as a surprise to many seasoned travellers as well when I gave them the reasons.
UBER is a great way to travel in and around Orlando. It is cheap and very effective. If you hire a car you have to pay parking at many of the hotels followed by a parking fee at the parks which is roughly $25. So before you start looking at car hire charges and fuel costs you are already paying anything around $50to $70 a day for just parking.
You will have to park a mile away from the main park and then use shuttle busses or trains to get to the main park itself vs UBER which drops you right at the entrance of the park. There are long queues to get on to the shuttle buses when the park close. Again you can call an UBER to pick you up and this will be right outside the exit of the park. Believe me after walking all day in the park this is a blessing.
Plus if you are living in a Disney property you will have access to free shuttle service to the parks.
Outlet Shopping in Orlando?
Keep a free day or 2 on your trip – This is just to break the daily routine of visiting the parks and relax by the poolside of your hotel or if you enjoy shopping – Orlando has some great deals on offer.
There are a few malls in Orlando but for the best deals visit the 2 main outlet shopping – Orlando Premium Outlets on International Drive and Lake Buena Vista. Both of these are easily accessible by public transport. One is near Universal Studio and the other a short drive from Disney Spring.
What is there in Disney Spring – Orlando?
After a long day at the park Disney Spring is a great way to relax stroll with family after dinner. Disney Springs is an outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment complex on International Drive in Bay Lake.
It is free to enter and there is a lot going on here. From street entertainment to themed restaurants Disney Spring has it all. There are some great restaurants and pubs here which make it a perfect evening out. Parking is free at Disney Spring.
Disney Springs huge and is divided into four areas: Marketplace, The Landing, Town Centre, and West Side.
Visit the ginormous Coke store in Disney Spring.
There is a Disney Ticket Centre here as well where you can Purchase Disney park tickets, make upgrades and pick up your tickets as well.
Most Popular Rides in Disneyland.
The most popular rides in Disney are Avatar Flight of Passage (Animal Kingdom), Frozen Ever After (Epcot) or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Magic Kingdom and have the longest queues so plan accordingly.
Parks don’t close when the sun goes down- there is plenty of activity after dark like Illuminations at Epcot and the fireworks at Magic Kingdom. All this is free and included within your park admission tickets.
The Disney specials.
- Fast Pass: A free reservations system that lets you book a time slot for rides and attractions. Allows you to book 3 experiences per day in one park. You can book more as you compete the rides.
- My Disney Experience: The online portal you will use to book and manage your Disney World vacation. Download the app to your phone to manage and book on site.
- PhotoPass: Get all your photo memory online and access to official Disney photographers in popular locations.
- MagicBand: A wristband where you can your park tickets, hotel room key, FastPass access. Can also be used to pay for things in Disney stores and park.
- Extra Magic Hours: Bonus hours where guests at Disney-affiliated hotels can enter the park before and after regular operating hours.
They are good to have but some you need to pay for some of these. However you can do without most of these.
Food and Drinks inside Disneyland.
As you can imagine food and drinks inside the park is generally expressive so try and carry a small back pack with some snacks and a refillable drinks bottle. Temperatures in this part of the world are high and humid so you will need a lot of liquid. You can still buy refillable drinks in the park but again this comes at a price. Dining with the starts is a great experience but comes at a cost.
I would rather choose a Disney Hotel and experience a meal with my favourite Disney characters in there. Most restaurants in the park provide water and ice to guests free of charge, even if you’re not purchasing food.
Hope these points have helped you plan your Disneyland first time – Best time to visit Disneyland.
A check list – Disneyland first time – Best time to visit Disneyland.
- Plan your trip so you make the best use of your time in Orlando.
- Do not buy park hopper tickets as you will only be able to do 1 park a day.
- Keep a park free day to give that break and rest.
- Expect long queues and prepare yourself for this.
- Use UBER as this is the fastest and most economical way to visit the parks.
- Spend an evening at Disney Springs and enjoy the many restaurants and cafes.
- Meet & greet lines are shortest in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and longest in Magic Kingdom.
- Meet and greet your favourite Disney characters but be mindful you will have to wait.
- Enjoy shopping at the Premium Outlet malls.
- Florida weather is unpredictable so pack accordingly – carry some waterproof for sure.
- Carry comfortable footwear as you will walk a lotttttt.
- Buy multi day passes as you get some free days. Do not by park hoppers.
- Try and avoid peak times at the park – Holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Spring Break.
- Enjoy the many free shows in the park including the illuminations and fireworks.
- Get deals on Disney Merchandise at the outlet store.
- Avoid the extras – Memory maker photo pass – you can click your own photos.
- Carry you water bottle and some snacks. A backpack will be handy.
- It is a headache to plan everything but you will benefit once you get there and experience it.
- Epcot has one of the best Illuminations at night – but get there early.
- Try and book a Disney hotel preferably not on property as the ones on property are expensive
- Make the most of the Magic hours – early entry and late night.
- Visit Universal Studio mid- Week and post lunch. You will get through a lot by closing time.
I must admit – A Disney Holiday is expensive but a holiday that you will remember for a lifetime.
I never done Disney and still not sure if I want to go (I think mainly because of the expense of it all). But now I have two children, maybe I will and found this guide to be very useful. To be honest, planning a trip to Disney, i wouldn’t know where to start. It just keeps expanding all the time. Who knows…another five years time, I might get there.
It is a holiday of a lifetime and must be experienced. Can be done with some savings if planned.
It has been far too long since we were last in Disneyland. So good to get some reminders. But I do remember how expensive it was. And probably more so now that there are 4 theme parks and 2 water parks to visit. We would love to stay in the park. Magic hours sounds like a great way to get more from your visit. I agree that you will not need a car if you are mostly visiting the parks. We love all the rides so would definitely want to consider a fast pass. I guess it is time to plan a return visit!
The magic hours do help for sure. You don’t need to pay extra for fast pass in Disney. They come with your pass, all you need to do is book ahead.
I’ve never been to Disneyland and never really understood the appeal, but you do make it sound like the experience of a lifetime. It certainly looks like a fairytale in your photos. I think the Avatar ride would be fun as long as it’s not too scary!
The Avatar ride is absolutely amazing. I’m not too much of a scary ride liver myself.
This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I am in the process of planning a trip there. So i will be book marking this post. I intend to travel in the shoulder season to save a little. The package tour looks more affordable. It is interesting to know that the fast track tickets do not charge extra. But will have to decide the rides in advance then. The Uber tip is really helpful.
Hope you have a great trip. Happy to help with any other queries if you have.
Must admit this is quite a helpful guide for first time traveler to Disneyland. It can ge very confusing planning a holiday to Orlando for the first time.
Hope this helps you plan you trip
I visited Disneyland Paris for the first time and loved its vibrant atmosphere and colorful surroundings. From your photos it looks all Disneyland are same as they have same blueprint for all places, as per my guess. It is better to book tickets from online official sites or reliable sites. Though I have not very much fascination for rides, but yes I love that performances in between, taking photo ops with Disney characters and that special big parade in evening followed by fireworks. As per my knowledge they only allow water that too 1 or 2 inside the park but food from outside is not allowed or else you have small babies who needs feeding. I don’t know maybe the rules of Disneyland Paris are different from rules of Disneyland Orlando. It is good that UBER works efficiently here and we don’t need our personal car.
I wasn’t aware you couldn’t carry food in Disneyland Paris which is a bit odd. Most Disneyland blueprints are the same. I have visited Paris Orlando and Hong Kong they all very similar.
Food I mean is main course types like bowl of noodles or pasta. Energy bars, chocolates or biscuits we can carry that I also know.
Possible not visited Paris Disney for sometime now.
I cant believe how much Disney has grown since I was last there. I’ve always wanted to return but have been so worried about the costs. With your tips though, I should be able to manage both my time and money better like by bringing my own snacks and booking the trip myself!
It is grown significant since you last went I presume as there is always something new being added.
I remember visiting the Disney land when I was a kid, so many things have changed so far and it is do great to see that even now kids go crazy for a disney land trip. I never knew that there is a particularly good time to visit the Disney land because it was always filled with visitors from all over the world. You got some great tips and tricks to make the best out of it with good price.
It’s always a good time but going when there is less crowd does make it easier and more enjoyable.
I have not been to Disneyland yet but I do understand that there is lots to do. Time management is quite a challenge there and of course, the trick to beat the crowd. With so many theme parks and other interesting things to do, I would prefer a Disney property in the off-season. Free shuttle and designated days makes things easier. Magic hours, Magic band and fast pass sounds good and useful as per need. A backpack, water and some snacks is always a good idea, anywhere, everywhere.
Yes planning and executing is key for a Disney holiday and I hope you can experience the magic soon yourself
I do not have kids but I am a Disney enthusiast myself. Which is why I was very upset when I visited Disneyland in Orlando in July because it was SO crowded, it was school vacation time. And each ride had more than an hour of waiitng time, half the rides were not working due to technical failure and it was a nightmare because I was there for only 3 days and ended up not being able to visit more than 2 parks. Thanks for such a detailed guide, I wish I had come across one of these before I visited a few years ago, would’ve helped me plan my trip more effectively.
Oh that’s sad. Hope you can visit once again. This time try and visit in non peak time.
We last went to Disneyland for my daughter’s 9th birthday, over a decade ago. We only went to one park, but I wish we had visited more. Good tips on bringing your own drinks. We went through several water bottles while there so it’s definitely economical to bring a backpack with your own stuff. And interesting that uber is the best way to get there now.
Hope you can visit the other parks again. Uber is surely a great way to travel in Orlando
Excellent tips here. Great idea to take UBER instead of hiring a car, I had never thought about visiting Disneyland this way but it makes sense. It is such an expensive holiday especially when you are coming in from overseas. It is one holiday that children will always remember.
Planning can save money but it is an expensive holiday. Apart from kids it was a holiday to remember even for Mr
Your post reminded me of our first time in Disneyland. It was about 30 years or so ago, when our son was only 5 years old. We all had so much fun! There was no UBER at that time, so we had to drive a long way to get there. Your suggestion to carry a small bag with snacks is great. Food is indeed very expensive in Disneyland.
Uber is a great help now and more cost effective. It’s quite different I imagine since you went. Yes food is a bit overpriced
I have crossed Tokyo Disneyland from my bucket list, and I can’t wait to explore the rest. Glad you had an amazing experience, and every Disney resorts gives different memorable experience. Definitely, Disney Florida will be in my list.
Hope you can cross if the others soon. Make sure to visit Orlando
I have never been to Disney Land….This article of yours is great and helped me to relive my childhood memories…I cant wait to go to Disneyland and try out the Avatar Flight of Passage, Frozen Ever After or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Magic Kingdom…The rides sounds really exciting…do you have any tips on how to cut the long queues without booking tickets in advance?
I hope you can visit Disneyland soon. You can’t get around the long queues unless you use fast track which I have detailed about on the post.
I adore Disney World, such an incredible Over The Top experience. You are right that it’s a very expensive trip though, so good to have tips on doing it properly. I agree as well that while the Disney properties are expensive, if you are going to make the first visit the most impressive, choosing one of them is the best! And also agree it’s worth getting the multi-day passes but focus on one park for a whole day.
Without a doubt if it’s your first visit keep it to a single park a day.
It’s been a long time since I was at Disneyland so this brought back some fun memories for me! There’s clearly been a lot of new rides since I last visited, and I’ve love to try some of them out. I appreciate the tips about booking the hotels in off-peak season; I’d no idea it was this expensive to stay here. I also do remember about the high prices for food and drink. Still. Disneyland is a one-off experience and is totally worth a visit!
There are changes surely since you last visited but only for the better. Planning and off peak travel can save money for sure.
I have been to Florida, but I haven’t been to Disneyland yet. It’s not on my list, because I am interested in nature. For sure it’s an excellent place for families. Disneyland is a great place to travel with children. But very expensive, too. For sure, while traveling with children, it is worth giving them joy and taking them to Disneyland. Great pictures show your happiness and fun. Very detailed article helpful planning a trip to Disneyland.
Thanks and yes if you have children it tops your list. But I came across adults who have been making the pilgrimage for years now and without children. You need to visit once maybe you might love it.
This is great guide for first time visitors to Disneyland. You have addressed almost everything that is required including the accommodation, commute, and shopping options. We went to Disney Orland in the summers and it was pretty hot and crowded. And it started raining like crazy in the afternoon. So, yes it helps to plan during the shoulder seasons when the temperatures are better. And next time, we plan to stay in a Disney property. I will take your tips on that.
Thanks. Yes does help certainly to travel in the shoulder months with less crowds and better deals.
I haven’t been to Disneyland till now, but this is definitely a must Visit for the kids. Specially the range of activities, entertainment, food & Luxury it offers, it makes a great deal to spend quality time with your family at Disneyland Florida. This is a detailed guide & very helpful for people who are planning a trip.
I hope you can visit Disneyland some day. It’s not just for kids. It brings out the child in all of us irrespective of age.
As a kid, I had always wanted to visit Disneyland. I had this immense desire to roam around the Walt Disney and the theme Parks. But the desire has waned as I grew up, mainly because of the cost. Nevertheless, I think Disney Land is a great place to visit for both kids and the grown-ups. I had never thought that Disneyland Orlando covers such a huge area! A great article for all those who wants to visit Disneyland for the first time.
I guess as we grow up we tend to move away from the Disney World. But once you are there it brings back the child in you. Hope you can experience it.
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