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Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The last of the four Walt Disney World parks is Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and I realize it’s cliched to say it, but while it’s the last it’s not the least.  Hollywood Studios is AMAZING!  I’ve already shared the photos from the girl’s Jedi Training School experience, which was totally incredible and jealousy inducing, but that was just one small part of our day.

There are just a TON of character meets at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the lines were minimal compared to many of the other parks.  There’s a bunch to do, yet this park doesn’t feel quite as overwhelming as the others (of course, by this point we had our system pretty much perfected – which really helps).  And it’s not totally kid-centric either, which was great.  This park definitely had the broadest appeal, with everything from Star Wars to the Muppets to Phineas and Ferb to Pixar’s greatest hits to classic Disney as well.  We loved everything about this one.  It was fabulous!

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

When we sat down to plan our trip, we decided to spend six days visiting Disney parks.  Two days for Magic Kingdom, one for Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios, and one spare day to go back wherever we felt needed an extra day of exploring and fun.  Well…  that extra day ended up with us back at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  We absolutely LOVED this park.

For those who have never been, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is like a zoo and an amusement park all rolled into one.  And as far as it’s zoo aspect goes, it’s one like no other.  While there are lots of areas where the animals have their own private enclosures, there are also a plethora of spaces where the animals are free to wander around with a multitude of species all sharing beautifully sculpted landscapes.  It really is quite impressive.  And while I promise to share lots of animal photos at a later date, here are a few of us just taking advantage of some cool photo-ops at the park:

Doing Disney the Smith Family Way

I’m a planner.  I like to know what’s going to happen and when.  It takes away the chaos that is present in so many activities when you have an AD/HD family, and just ups the enjoyment factor immensely.  So it wasn’t long into our Walt Disney World trip that I developed my own way of doing things.  And as promised, I’m going to reveal a few tips and tricks to make your Disney trip stress-free and a whole lot more enjoyable too.

I’m all about keeping things simple, easy, and stress-free.  Thus my tips are all about doing just that.  And one of the BIGGEST helpers are those kitchy little maps they have for all the Disney parks.  GRAB THOSE MAPS!

The night before you head to a park, sit down with the map and figure out your MUST HIT attractions, character meets, rides, and dining experiences:

Our must do list for day two at the Magic Kingdom park.

Our must do list for day two at the Magic Kingdom park.

I just laid on the bed in our Finding Nemo room at the Art of Animation resort, and using one of the pens from our room sketched little brackets around everything that we really wanted to do that second day in the park.  We had already spent one day there, so it a lot of our must do’s, but there were still a lot left on our list.  I tossed in a question mark on any attraction that we really wanted to do, but that wasn’t a top priority.

Then I went through the map, and drew stars beside each of the must do rides/attractions/events/dining spots, and a question mark on the want to do ones:

The Disney map, with all my notations on it.

The Disney map, with all my notations on it.

Lastly, but SUPER important not to miss, go through and mark an FP on all the places you’ve marked so far that offer a fast pass.  Using the fast pass system makes your life SOOO much easier.  So be sure to take note of which spots actually offer them and mark them on your map.  You can see them on the map above, but here’s a close up of Fantasyland and New Fantasyland:

Here you can see we have three attractions marked - two with Fast Pass.

Here you can see we have three attractions marked – two with Fast Pass.

When you first hit the park, go directly to the closest area and get your first fast pass.  Take note of what time you need to be back there, and then decide to do the remaining STAR attractions/rides now or closer to when you need to redeem your fast pass.  You can only get a new fast pass once every hour, so once you’ve gotten one, then hit some of your starred rides and attractions that don’t offer fast pass while you wait until enough time has passed to get your next one.

Having these maps, and your choices charted out on them, really is a small thing.  And honestly?  It only takes about twenty minutes to do – and is a great relaxing activity for the adults in your party to tackle after any younglings are asleep.  It’s a small thing that makes a BIG impact on your park experience.  So take that little bit of time the night before each park visit.  It saved my sanity and made our trip SOOO much more enjoyable.

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