December 4, 2019

Everything to know about Disney World during the Holidays

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Oh baby! This post is going to be chock-full of information about visiting Disney at this time of the year (we went November 9-14), military discount information, what we would and definitely wouldn’t do next time, and even what I would suggest wearing. I’ll cut the chatter. Let’s get into this.

Military Information

If you are military, we highly suggest getting your tickets through your on base ticketing office. It’s usually called the ITT (Information, Tickets, and Travel) or sometimes you can find it under the MWR office. It was less than $250 a person for the 4 day ticket with Park Hopper! It was such a good deal! We debated also going to Universal Studios since we would be in Orlando but decided we’ll do that some other time so we could really soak up as much Disney as possible (especially with the Christmas festivities) this time around.

Shades of Green books almost a full year in advance so if you are wanting to stay there, you’ll have to reserve your rooms early. We’ve heard amazing things about staying there but it was full when we were planning our trip (4ish months out by the way).

You also have the option to get a discounted Photo Pass. Anytime a photo is taken of you on a ride or in front of the castle, for example, your Magic Band will automatically add the photo to your Disney app. With the Photo Pass you can download any photo that is taken of you for around $90 with the military discount. Normally it runs around $200. Multiple sets of our friends highly recommend getting it! Especially with kids! We didn’t but we would definitely look into it if we bring kids in the future.

Hotel Accommodations

We stayed in the All Star Sports Resorts, which is one of the value Disney resorts. I should preface this by saying that Stephen and I don’t have extremely high standards when it comes to hotels. To some people it may not be fancy enough but it was very clean and well kept, just like anything under the Disney name. We also knew that we’d only be spending the time we slept in there anyway.

We loved the convenience of staying in a Disney property. The transportation piece is the best part. There are buses that come about every 10-15 minutes to take you to all of the parks and Disney Springs and will also take you back from the park. Even if we had multiple kids, a stroller, etc. we’d still take the bus. We saw so many families doing that! It was so much nicer than dealing with the hassle of driving, dealing with traffic, parking in a parking lot far away, getting a little shuttle thing to the park… You get what I’m saying.

If you book your stay with a Disney resort, you automatically get magic bands sent to you, free of charge. Magic bands are just that – magic. They are your room key, contain your Fast Passes, Photo Pass, room charges, etc. They are seriously the most phenomenal thing. We couldn’t get over how amazing and convenient they made everything. You can read more about them HERE.

Food – Dining Plan Details

Okay this section is important. I think because we’re a bit scarred from the experience. That’s a little dramatic. But let me explain.

We decided to do the deluxe dining plan which means that we both were able to get 3 table-service meals a day plus 2 snacks. If you were having lunch or dinner you could select an appetizer, entree, dessert, and drink (alcohol if you wanted), but for breakfast it was just an entree and drink. DID YOU READ THAT?! At our first dinner we decided to keep a running list the entire trip of how much we “spent” on food. Here’s what we figured out halfway through our first meal – we were over ordering/eating because we felt like we had to make all of the money we spent on the dining plan worth it. To say we felt uncomfortable was an understatement. We ate and drank way more than we would’ve if we just paid out of pocket for every meal. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed trying a bunch of foods we typically wouldn’t order if we didn’t have the meal plan and everything that we ate was delicious of course (it is Disney after all!), but we both agreed that it just wasn’t worth it. Not only would we have saved quite a bit of money by just paying out of pocket, but we also wouldn’t have been so uncomfortable.

Some of our favorite eats – lunch in Pandora at a little quick service cafe, the macaron ice cream sandwich in France, dinner at Tiffins in Animal Kingdom, and this cold ramen from the Food & Wine Festival to name a few. Really everything we ate was so delicious though except for some corn fritters we got after Test Track. We threw them out and felt terrible for it but they weren’t worth eating.

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

His expression cracks us up. My favorite sip from that entire day: the limoncello cider! So delicious.

Speaking of food, another amazing part about going this time of the year was that we were able to go to the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot. The festival took place August 29-November 19. Since Stephen and I are both “foodies” we were extremely excited about this. The excitement was worth it! We had a really good time seeing all of the different food options the countries offered and trying quite a few of them. It was definitely something we’d recommend doing and it was great that no extra ticket or fee was required. You just pay for whatever food or drink you want to try. In our case, a lot of the options counted as a snack credit on our dining plan so we didn’t have to pay out of pocket.

For those with kids, it is possible to go to the festival with them! It might not necessarily be as fun for them as going on rides, for example, but there were chances to see the Frozen characters, Mulan, etc. that I think the kids really appreciated!

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

After watching multiple TV shows about Disney during Christmas I’ve always wanted to go. I mean Disney AND Christmas?! Does it get any better?! We decided to pay the extra money to get the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets. We were really shocked at the number of people that did the same.

Some things to mention about the party –

  1. It was extremely busy. Way busier that we thought it would be.
  2. Don’t be fooled by the website and the fancy food and treats they show. That all requires extra tickets on top of the party ticket. The treats included in the party ticket are packaged cookies and some grape soda or apple juice. That was kind of a disappointment to me especially after seeing all of the amazing treats on TV. That’s a huge first world problem, I know, but I just wanted to give you a heads up because I had no clue either.
  3. The firework show alone was worth the cost of the party ticket. We suggest getting your spot in front of the castle an hour+ before the show actually starts. It’s important you’re in front of the castle not only for the view but also for the music! We stood on the bridge to the right side of the castle and while it was a great view of the castle, we had no idea that there was music that lined up with the fireworks. We actually saw the firework show again at dinner the next night with the music and it made the whole show absolutely phenomenal.
  4. The parade was also SO AMAZING! YOU GUYS!!! Each of the floats gives off a different smell as they go by. WHAT?! We also suggest making sure you get a good spot for that, especially if you have little ones.
  5. Taste the snow on Main Street!!!I really wish that I did! They have these machines on the roofs of all the buildings that spray little bubbles/foam that make it feel like it’s snowing. I learned afterward that it tasted like cinnamon. It looked like soap to me so I didn’t. I should’ve known that Disney would’ve done something genius like that. Someone try it out and let me know if that’s true!!!

Would we recommend paying the extra money to do this? Because of the parade and fireworks, yes. They were exceptional. If that’s not your type of thing, maybe not. If you can’t stand big crowds… Either don’t go or just prepare yourself for a heck of a lot of people.

Our Itinerary

We really loved the way our itinerary worked out! Stephen did a great job planning. This is what we did:

  • We drove down on Saturday and ate dinner in Disney Springs at STK Orlando that evening.
  • Sunday we spent the entire day at Magic Kingdom and ate dinner at Diamond Horseshoe- we walked 9 miles that day!
  • Monday we spent all day at Epcot. That night we went to Mickey’s Christmas party – we walked 11 miles that day!
  • Tuesday we took a day off from the parks. Our friends suggested doing that and we’re so glad we did! We spent the day walking around Disney Springs. We were luckily able to walk off some of the uncomfortableness from our overstuffed stomachs. Ha!
  • Wednesday we spent the entire day at Animal Kingdom and had dinner there that night at Tiffins Restaurant. It was the best dinner we had the entire trip.
  • Thursday we spent the morning at Hollywood Studios and then the rest of the day at Epcot before having dinner in Italy at Via Naploi Ristorante e Pizzeria.

What I Wore

The weather was so great!!! That’s another big reason why we’d definitely come back around this time of year. I’d definitely suggest bringing/wearing layers. Some mornings were quite chilly so it helped to have a jacket, sweater, or long sleeve top. A lot of you asked for links to these items so here you go.

Some of the options that I’m including in here are not the exact same item that I’m wearing because it has been discontinued. Since I am moving towards a more intentional wardrobe, I have included similar items that I would personally put my money towards if I were to replace the item I currently own.

Magic Kingdom – This day was definitely the warmest! The high was about 80F!

Magic Kingdom
mickey's Christmas

Epcot – I ended up starting and ending the day with the jacket on! I was really thankful to have it. Stephen felt the same about his long sleeve.

On our “day off” in Disney Springs, I wore a simple dress and my VANS. The dress I wore is discontinued but these are some staple dresses I plan on investing in eventually.

Striped White Long Sleeve | Short Sleeve | Staple Dress

Animal Kingdom

The day we spent in Animal Kingdom was chilly! I think it barely reached the 60s if I remember correctly. We were both fine in what we wore. I didn’t ever take my pullover off.

Our last day in Hollywood Studios warmed up a bit but it ended up being just fine for us in jeans. It reached the mid 70s that day but again, it was chilly in the morning. I had a sweater with me that we kept in the backpack.

Hollywood Studios

What We WILL DO Next Time

  • Stay in a Disney resort! We might just stay in another All Star one! To us it’s not worth paying the big bucks on the more expensive options. We barely spent any time in there! Also the Magic Bands are a phenomenal perk.
  • Go at this time of the year!
  • Pay for food out of pocket. 100%.
  • Visit Pandora in Animal Kingdom again and ride the banshee ride. It was our favorite part (even though we don’t even remember the movie).

What We WILL NOT DO Next Time

  • Get a dining plan.

I hope this post helps! I know it’s a lot to digest. Let me know if you have any questions.

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with joy
jordan jean


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