This year for Thanksgiving we took a family trip to Disney World. It was a week long vacation, and included a visit to Universal Studios. We had been planning this trip since last spring, and were super excited when the time finally arrived. The trip was a blast, but there are definitely some parts that I would have changed.
The first important thing to know is that Disney World the week of Thanksgiving is crowded. I am sure had we gone the week prior or after Thanksgiving we would have faced fewer crowds and probably saved money on our plane tickets. Be sure to plan around the busy seasons when going to Disney World. I think the next time we go it will be in February or sometime that is not very busy.
If the busy seasons are unavoidable due to scheduling, there are still ways to have a great time. When you are planning your trip be sure to download the Disney World app on your smart phone. This app really helped to make the trip go a lot smoother. I was able to make reservations for dining ahead of time, and even book fast passes once I had my park tickets. I also used the app to keep an eye on wait times for rides. This app was a time saver.
Both Disney World and Universal studios were really crowded. I was hoping to be able to explore the world of Harry Potter at Universal, but the roads were so crowded I could hardly get into any of the shops. The rides were amazing, but we had to wait in long lines. The lines were not as bad at Disney World, but that is because I was able to get fast passes for the more popular rides. Universal Studios offers a fast pass type option, but it costs more, and I preferred waiting in lines then spending a lot more money (they weren’t cheap). If you want to survive the lines at Disney World, get fast passes.
My kids are 8 and 11 years old, so they didn’t really care about the characters. They were all about the rides. We were able to go on every ride, as everyone met the height requirements. I think my favorite ride at Disney World is Soarin, and my favorite one at Universal Studios is the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey ride. If you have smaller children I do not recommend Universal Studios. Most of those rides had height requirements, and there are some pretty awesome roller coasters that you may want to wait for until your kids can join you.
Hogwarts Castle in Universal Studios
We managed to save a great deal of money on tickets, as we got a military discount. We also stayed at the hotel on the Disney resort designated to military families. One thing we had to be a little more aware of with our spending was food. I found that it was less expensive to order kids meals (even for myself). The kids meals were about half the price of the regular meals, and no one knows who they are for if you are going to the counter service eateries. It doesn’t work, however, if you are at a sit-down restaurant.
Our trip was amazing even though the parks were crowded. We managed to have a great time and still do all the rides that we wanted. If you are planning a trip to Disney World try to plan for the off seasons, and get the app. I am hoping to return in about five years for my 40th birthday. Maybe then we will do a land and sea cruise.