In my quest to visit Disney World at least once a month for the entirety of 2017, I’ve come to grips with the fact that my trips can’t all be five days or a week long, which is my preferred length of time to stay somewhere when I had to sit in a car for six and a half hours to get there. But until my February trip, I’d never stayed for just a weekend. It was a new experience.
Alisha and I have been travel buddies for a long time now. We made our first trip to Disney together in 2015 with our friends Heather and Whitney, and since then, we’ve been back four more times. But even though we’re used to spending long periods of time together (often in the car, and usually when something is going wrong) and at Disney, we knew that we’d have to figure out exactly how we wanted this year to go, and oh boy, did we learn over just a short weekend.
This trip, we learned a few important lessons about what we do and don’t like on a Disney trip, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the year is going to be even better because of it. Read on and learn from our mistakes. Please. Do not make these yourself!
We Stayed Off Property And Hated It
Since this was just a quick trip, we decided to save money and stay in an off property hotel — something we never do. I have been to Disney World 12 times since 2012, and only one of those times was spent off property, during my first trip as an “adult” when I was a poor college kid. And the 20 or so times I went with my parents as a kid? Port Orleans, baby — which was called Dixie Landings back then.
So this time, we switched things up and I Pricelined the Lake Buena Vista Sheraton, which was a relatively nice hotel for under $100 a night. We have annual passes, which means free parking at the parks, so we figured it’d be easy. Uh, no… even if there was a cat living in the parking lot who looks exactly like my cat, Rapunzel.
Staying in a hotel outside the Disney gates is a great way to save money… until it isn’t. Almost every hotel close enough to the parks charges a resort fee, ranging from $10 per night — $30 per night, and most of them also charge for parking, which in our case was $20 a night. That means on top of what I paid for three nights in the room, I was also charged $90 bonus dollars I didn’t budget for, and at that point, did I even save any money? That was my bad for not researching it better, but I know not to make that decision in the future.
And outside of the money, the convenience and the time you save by staying with Walt is just so worth it. You’re closer to everything, you avoid the traffic outside the World, and you live a more carefree, immersive experience. Plus, we really enjoy our Disney cocktails and drinking around the world, so not worrying about driving home is a definite bonus. Actually, one of the nights, we hadn’t been drinking but we were exhausted and I’d argue getting back to our hotel was just as dangerous. Something to think about!
Oh, and Alisha and I have a certain tradition where we get back to the hotel room and order a Disney pizza and call it second dinner. Can’t do that at the Sheraton.
We Saw Rivers Of Light
Something I was super excited about this trip for was that serendipity allowed us to arrive on the same night Rivers Of Light debuted at Animal Kingdom. It’s a nighttime show that has been in the works for about two years, and it was supposed to premiere in early 2016 but kept getting delayed. Seeing that first performance was so magical, and I recommend anyone who’s visiting go see it. Longer post with tons of pics on this one later on!
Also, they had fabulous booze with light up lotus flowers floating in it, so obvs we had to get one. Pro tip: Disney has differently themed plastic glow cubes all over their parks, and Alisha and I are on a hunt to collect them all. They serve as really cute souvenirs of every place you were drunk enough to spend $15 on a drink while on vacation!
We Discovered Our New Favorite Lunch Spot
As I mentioned earlier, Alisha and I are huge pizza fans, so on the day we arrived we headed over to Pinocchio’s Village Haus in the Magic Kingdom for some pizza. Not only was the pizza amazing, but we discovered you can go upstairs and eat on a balcony overlooking Fantasyland. The view is gorgeous, it’s a rare quiet spot in the park, and it’s the best people watching you could ask for.
Another pro tip: If you hear loud noises, it’s fireworks. Even during the day. You are not being attacked.
We Also Discovered Our Least Favorite Time To Travel
This one is totally our fault, because we didn’t realize that it was President’s Day weekend or that it was a real holiday that people actually got off school for, so by Saturday morning, the place was packed. Disney is not that fun when your Fastpasses run out and your option is to wait 25 minutes for a Frappucino or wait 65 minutes for It’s A Small World. No, thanks.
We Saw The Beginning Of Beauty & The Beast!
Hiding in the back of One Man’s Dream in Hollywood Studios, there is a display featuring Belle’s yellow ball gown that Emma Watson wore in the movie and the enchanted rose, and then if you go in the theater, they’re showing 11 minutes of the movie, which includes “Belle” in its entirety. I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t tear up, and then I immediately texted my mom because the animated version was the first movie she took me to see in theaters ever when I was a tot. I can’t wait!
I am seriously SO EXCITED FOR THIS MOVIE I AM GOING TO THROW UP WHEN I SEE IT PROBABLY.
And if you were wondering about our current stats:
DISNEY DAYS IN 2017: 8 DAYS
DAYS UNTIL OUR NEXT TRIP: 20 DAYS