3 Day Itinerary| Orlando, Florida
Orlando is a fairly small city, but unique in the world. Why? Because it hosts the world’s most beloved theme park, Disney World. The park is a destination unto itself, and the vast majority of guests who visit Disney don’t even bother to step outside the park’s boundaries to experience Orlando itself. And outside the park even has hidden attractions. This article covers how to spend three days in the parks, but at the end of the post, I’ve included other attractions you may be interested in the city of Orlando itself, should you want to get away from Disney for just a bit.
Day 1. The Magic Kingdom
Spending a day in this magical place can be overwhelming, especially for first-timers. The key is to have a game plan beforehand to get as much in as possible. Know which rides you want to go on – chances are most other park-goers will want to ride the same attractions as you, so take advantage of the Fast Pass and (mostly) avoid long lines, which really eat up your time at the park.
Carve out sometime (about an hour) to explore Main Street USA. There are many touristy gift shops here and also some great Disney memorabilia on display. Likewise, many great places to eat, whether you just want an ice cream cone or a full meal.
Depending on your situation (whether you are a couple, or have a whole family with you) there are certain areas of the park you may not be interested in. For example, Fantasyland has rides mostly geared for young children. You won’t find any heart-stopping rides in this section. So, if you don’t have kids with you, best to avoid this section and spend your time wisely in other areas of the park.
The rides I highly recommend at the Magic Kingdom are:
- Pirates of the Caribbean. Fashioned after the Johnny Depp movie. This is a lazy log ride with some impressive animatronics.
- Haunted Mansion. A Disney classic that’s “not too scary.” The special effects you witness in this dark environment are pretty awesome. And they completely transform it during the Christmas holiday!
- Space Mountain. Hugely popular, you will want to grab your FastPass first thing on this ride. A heart-stopping roller coaster in the dark.
Day 2. Epcot Center
You’ve seen the multi-faceted sphere on T-shirts and in countless pictures. But nothing can prepare you for encountering this behemoth orb up close and personal. You will literally walk underneath the hulking giant as you enter the park, and it’s awesome! In this geodesic dome, you can ride Spaceship Earth. One of the tamer rides in the park, you take a trip on a slow-moving car as you travel in time and explore how communication has changed through the ages.
Now let’s visit the other end of the spectrum – Test Track. This is a 60-mph adrenaline-pumping ride, but the best part (I think) is that you get to design your car before you ride! Not in aesthetic design, but rather maneuverability, power, and fuel efficiency. As you speed along hugging curves, there are steep hills and sharp turns, as you whip around an actual test track, dodging obstacles along the way.
Epcot is truly a multi-world where you can immerse yourself in the culture of several countries. Walk down a quaint British street and ten minutes later be standing in front of an authentic Japanese building. Shops in each of the “countries” are staffed by people actually from the given country, lending itself even more to the authenticity of the Epcot experience. There are many events and festivals taking place at Epcot throughout the year, so there is never a bad time to go.
Try to avoid the summer months, as it gets quite crowded and the prices are generally higher. This is true for all of the Disney parks!
Day 3. Animal Kingdom
The newest and by far the most popular attraction in the Animal Kingdom is Pandora – World of Avatar. A section of the park modeled after the James Cameron film, Avatar. You can immerse yourself in the Avatar world, and even speak Na’vi to the cast members there since they know the language!
It’s easy to spend an entire day exploring all of the sections of this fantastic theme park, from Africa to Dinoland, the USA to Asia, and Discovery Island. In each section, you will find unique exhibits, good places to eat, and interactive installations galore. My favorite is the Safari Ride, where you hop in a guided car through a slow drive through the bush and view some incredible wildlife! The Animal Kingdom is part theme-park and part zoo, taken up a notch.
The other ride I highly recommend is the Kali River Rapids. This is especially nice on a hot day, as you will almost be guaranteed to get (very) wet as you raft down the water in what amounts to a circular bumper car. After the Florida sun has dried you off, go catch a show. Disney regularly rotates a number of professionally-produced shows and musicals that people of all ages will enjoy
- Disney has recently introduced ‘Magic Bands’, which can be used as a FastPass, for charging food and other things to your hotel bill (you need to stay at a Disney hotel for this) and even to enter the theme park of your choice. You pay the admission fee beforehand and it gets coded into your bracelet.
- Get to the park a few minutes before it opens (there will already be a line to get in). Early mornings are the best time of day, as the temps are generally cooler and the crowds are much thinner.
- Go on your favorite rides during parade times, as the lines are shorter.
- Wear comfortable shoes, as you will be on your feet the majority of the day. The average park goer walks 7-10 miles a day while visiting Disney World. Wi-Fi is available in most areas throughout Disney World.