Walt Disney World
Firstly, the castle has to be seen to be believed! My first trip to Disney World was a truly magical experience; Magic Kingdom is wonderful for young and old alike. I love the chocolate strawberries, the parades and the evening firwork display, but my kids love the ‘Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin’ ride and the ‘Tomorrow Land Speedway’ ride. They also love the ‘Philharmagic 3D Montage’ film, which is a great diversion if you want to escape the heat of the afternoon sun. A real treat for any would-be princess is the Cinderella castle, where kids can have a magical makeover in the ‘bibbidi-bobbidi boutique’. The would-be princess in me always feels a pang as I pass; my two sons head straight to pirate transformations for Captain Sparrow’s Show and Parade… it is a pirate’s life for me now I’m afraid! Of course, ‘Thunder Mountain’ and ‘Space Mountain’ are not to be missed either. But, as the finale to your adventure, head over to Main Street at the end of your day to watch the fireworks light up the sky behind the iconic fairy-tale castle. The firework show ‘wishes’ are a wonderful way to end a magical day.
There are two parts to Epcot: Future World (which showcases technological innovation) and World Showcase (which has incredibly authentic culture and cuisine of 11 different countries). Both are incredible. My kids love getting their ‘passports’ stamped in the different ‘countries’ and the firework show here is out of this world!
It’s not just thought-provoking exhibitions though; the ‘Soarin’ and the ‘Test Track’ rides here are firm family favourites. ‘Soarin’ gives your views of California from the air as you feel the wind in your hair on a simulated multi-person glider – a truly amazing ride. ‘Test Track’ is also a great ride for all the family; put the virtual car you create to a test drive in this incredible 6-seater simulator.
I’m a soft-touch where fireworks are concerned, but Epcot’s award-winning firework show ‘Illumnations: Reflections of Earth’ is a history of mankind, humanity and a vision of the future and is truly mind-blowing stuff. Epcot also hosts a wonderful food and drink exhibition every September which I can highly recommend and its Springtime Flower and Garden exhibition is on my bucket list!
Disney Hollywood Studios
A wealth of movie-inspired rides, shows and entertainment including Star Tours, Studio Back-Lot Tour and The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow. The ‘Lights, Motor, Action Extreme Stunt Show’ here will have you on the edge of your seats and is great family entertainment. My kids love the ‘Toy Story Midway Mania’ ride and for older kids the ‘Rock n Roller Coaster’ can’t be beaten. The new ride here is ‘Star Tours: The Adventure Continues’ – a 3D motion-simulated space flight that launches you into the world of Star Wars. With over 50 story combinations, it is a great ride for all the family. My kids loved joining with the Jedis to fight Darth Vader after the ride finished. Another favourite is hurtling up and down into the twilight aboard a haunted elevator on the ‘Tower of Terror’ – not for the faint-hearted!
Disney Animal Kingdom
In addition to all the rides and attractions of the other parks, Disney World Orlando’s Animal Kingdom is one of the biggest animal parks in the world. You can see more than 250 different species of animals here and the live shows are great for nature-mad kids.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach Water Parks
There are also two water parks on the Disney World Orlando site. Blizzard Beach is a little more targeted to families with younger children. However, they both have amazing slides, rides and pools. Plus, in Typhoon Lagoon you can see sharks, stingrays and tropical fish at the ‘coral reef’.