“50 best moments from our Walt Disney World Resort in Florida family holiday”
The Friend family recently won a trip of a lifetime to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. They share their incredible memories and brilliant holiday highlights
When it comes to unforgettable family holidays, it doesn’t get much more magical than Walt Disney World Resort in Florida – just ask our lucky MadeForMums competition winners, the Friend family.
Having recently returned from a 7-night stay at Disney’s charming waterfront BoardWalk Inn, Nicola and Tom, parents to 5-year-old Georgia and 2-year-old Joseph, have shared the top 50 best moments of their trip – which is no mean feat. With so much to see and do at Walt Disney World Resort, whittling it down to 50 really wasn’t easy!
1 A magical moment with Rapunzel
“Georgia met Rapunzel during the day and then when we watched the parade that evening, Rapunzel pointed her out in the crowd and interacted with her during the performance,” says Nicola. “It made Georgia feel so special, she was like: ‘Wow, that was just for me!’.”
2 No queuing for hotel check-in
After a long flight across the Atlantic, the last thing you want to do is spend time checking into your hotel, especially with tired kids in tow. “With the My Disney Experience app we could use our phone to check in online,” says Nicola. “We didn’t need to go to the desk at all, we went straight to our room. It made everything so easy – kids don’t want to sit around waiting!”
3 Surprise snow in Florida
“The kids absolutely love Frozen and the Sing-Along was amazing,” says Nicola. “The cast whipped through the story in such an engaging way, and it even ended with snow, which the kids found so magical. It just feels so real to them at that age.”
4 The thrill of Toy Story Land
“The scenery at Toy Story Land was incredible. It’s set as if you’re a toy and you’re in Andy’s backyard,” explains Tom. “There was so much going on, even when we queued for the Toy Story Mania attraction, Mr Potato head spoke to the crowd and kept everybody entertained,” adds Nicola.
5 A ‘flight’ to remember
Flight simulator ride Soarin’ Around the World in EPCOT has become a Walt Disney World favourite – and according to Nicola, it definitely got Georgia’s seal of approval. “When we came off this ride, Georgia turned to me and said: ‘Mummy, my wish came true. I wished that I could fly, and I did.’ It was the sweetest thing.”
Mummy, my wish came true. I wished that I could fly, and I did
6 Unlimited drink refills
Florida’s warm, sunny climate calls for regular hydration and the family loved that Walt Disney World’s Refillable Mugs made that easy. The 16oz insulated coffee mugs are sold at every Disney hotel and entitled the Friends to unlimited free refills on fountain drinks, coffee and tea from participating locations for the duration of their stay.
7 A ride you can smell
EPCOT’s new Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure 4D ride – which opened as part of its 50th Anniversary celebrations – is designed for the whole family to enjoy. “You wear 3D glasses so things look bigger than they are,” explains Nicola. “You can even feel champagne spray on your face and smell fresh bread. It’s so clever.”
8 Joseph getting behind the wheel!
At the Tomorrowland Speedway in Magic Kingdom racers as small as 32 inches (81 cm) can put the pedal to the metal in their very own hotrod and cruise along a scenic miniature motorway. Needless to say, Joseph loved this one!
9 Mickey Mouse cinnamon swirls
When breakfast or a packed lunch was needed, the family made the BoardWalk Bakery (located inside their hotel) their first port of call. “It was just so convenient. The Mickey Mouse cinnamon swirls were delicious, and you could even get salads and fruit pots, which were really reasonably priced,” says Nicola.
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10 Knowing queuing times in advance
With the Disney Genie app, the family were able to check ride queueing times long before they got to the parks – it even put together a park itinerary for them based on their interests.
11 A jaw-dropping view from the bedroom
With their lakeview room, the Friends were able to get spectacular views of the Boardwalk entertainment and even the parks’ firework displays in the evenings.
12 The Boneyard playground
“There were some great playgrounds in the parks, but we particularly liked The Boneyard in Animal Kingdom. It had a huge slide, and the floor was spongy, so we didn’t have to worry about the kids falling and hurting themselves.”
13 Georgia eating her own designed cup
Fine dining at the Be Our Guest lunch in Magic Kingdom was made extra special for Georgia when dessert included a decorate-your-own chip cup. “She didn’t eat it for the first 10 minutes because she spent so much time intricately creating a face,” says Tom. “She also got a light up mocktail, which was completely mind-blowing for her,” adds Nicola.
14 Extended park hours
Because the family were staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort, they were able to stay an extra 2 hours after closing time on selected days – a perk they certainly made the most of. “We’d watch the fireworks and then run around the park going on everything!” laughs Nicola.
15 A roaring encounter with a real lion
The Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom are always popular, but the Friends got an extra special surprise during their visit. “We went early in the morning and the lions were awake. One of them stood on top of this huge rock and started roaring. Even the tour guide said it wasn’t something you saw very often!”
16 Marshmallows and movies
One of the great things about staying in a Disney hotel is that you don’t have to miss out on the magic when you’re enjoying a rest day from the parks. “At the BoardWalk Inn, we could spend evenings toasting marshmallows and watching movies on the green on the big screen,” says Nicola.
17 Teddy check with Doc McStuffins
“Doc McStuffins is a favourite in our house,” says Nicola. “So Joseph was absolutely made up when we saw her in Hollywood Studios. She even checked over his teddy!”
18 Bicycle made for 4
According to the Friends, there’s no better way to cruise the BoardWalk Inn’s Coney Island-style boardwalk than on a 4-person Surrey bike. “These were literally outside the front of our hotel and were great fun. The kids sat at the front so Georgia could ring the bell – she loved it!”
The kids sat at the front so Georgia could ring the bell – she loved it!
19 Free colouring-in at food time
“All of the restaurants provided crayons and drawing materials for the kids. They were just so thoughtful and welcoming. They even referred to all the children as ‘Little Princess’ or ‘Little Prince’,” says Nicola.
20 Using Rider Switch
With Disney’s Rider Switch, one parent can wait with the children while the other queues. When the queuing parent has enjoyed the ride, they’re then able to switch with the waiting parent so they don’t have to wait in the line again. “It’s so much easier than having to make the kids queue, and because Georgia was tall enough for some of the rides, she was able to go on twice, so both of us could experience it with her,” the couple explain.
21 The mind-blowing hotel lobby
Let’s be honest, curious children aren’t always appreciated by staff in hotel lobbies, but the Friend family were blown away by how much the BoardWalk Inn actively encouraged curiosity in little ones. “There were loads of interactive experiences and figures to entertain the kids in the lobby. It wasn’t one of those places where things were kept behind glass cabinets,” explains Nicola.
22 Making memories with The Lion King
In Animal Kingdom, you’ll find A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King, which the family say was nothing short of spectacular. “There are huge floats and dancers. It was incredible,” Nicola enthuses. “Georgia takes ballet classes and dances to songs from The Lion King, so there was one song in particular where she’d bring out her little moves and do all of the actions!” laughs Tom.
23 Discovering Fruit Sushi
Frushi, which is available at Japan in EPCOT, was a surprise hit for the Friends. “We weren’t sure what to think about fruit sushi, but it was actually really tasty! There were lots of different variations to try too,” enthuse Tom and Nicola.
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24 Free meals for Joseph
Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest may be some of the Disney World Resort’s most high-end restaurants, but they allowed 2-year-old Joseph to eat free of charge, as he was under 3.
25 Riding the new rollercoaster – wow!
New for 2022 and the 50th Anniversary, the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind rollercoaster is one of the Walt Disney World’s most hotly-anticipated rides, so it’s no surprise it was a hit with Tom and Nicola, who say it was “unlike any rollercoaster we’ve been on!”
26 Having time for napping
“The parks are definitely busiest in the middle of the day, so we’d nap in the afternoon with the kids and then head out again in the evening to make the most of the extended evening hours, when it was quieter,” explains Tom.
27 Eating dinner with the sharks
The family had a meal they’ll never forget at the Coral Reef Restaurant in EPCOT, which looks out over a living coral reef that’s home to more than 2,000 sea creatures!
28 Turtle Talk with Crush
During this 15-minute improvised live show with Crush from Finding Nemo, Nicola and Tom found it wasn’t only the kids laughing, as they were in stitches too. “He picks out parents in the crowd and winds them up a bit. It was really funny,” says Nicola.
29 Make-believe flowers
“There were flower sculptures in all the parks, which Georgia loved. In fact, she loved them so much, she wants me to create a floral Mickey and Minnie in the garden this summer!” laughs Nicola.
30 Shrieking on the Frozen water ride
“The Frozen Ever After log ride was a dream come true ride for our kids,” says Tom. “They were really excited about getting splashed, and they love Frozen. By the first corner Joseph was shouting out Olaf’s name!”
Frozen Ever After ride was a dream come true for our kids
31 High riding on the monorail
Getting between parks was a breeze with the monorail, which took the family from the Magic Kingdom to EPCOT in a matter of minutes – all while riding high in the sky.
32 Sightseeing by air gondolas
One of Walt Disney World’s newest transport systems, the Disney Skyliner is an aerial gondola system that takes you between parks and hotels – and the Friends found it was also the ultimate fireworks viewing platform. “We came back from Hollywood Studios and while we were up in the air, all of the fireworks were going off in EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom, so we could see them all from our own little booth in the sky.”
33 Easy-to-use cashless MagicBands
With these colourful, waterproof wristbands you can easily tap to an access point to gain entry to a theme park and even make contactless payments.
34 Learning about nature with Wilderness Explorers
Inspired by the adventures of Russell from Up, this attraction sets kids nature-themed challenges in exchange for badges. “The kids were given a sash and a little bag before setting out to explore. It was great for their learning,” says Nicola.
35 Breakfast fit for a princess
Cinderella’s castle is one of Disney World’s most iconic landmarks, and by booking a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table Restaurant, the family were able to see it like never before. “We booked for breakfast and were greeted by Cinderella, plus we got to go right to the top of the castle,” says Nicola. Delights on the menu include caramel apple-stuffed French toast, beef tenderloin and even bubbly cocktails.
36 Signed with love
“Georgia and Joseph can be a little bit shy, but we found an autograph book in one of the shops, and it gave them a little job to do when we saw characters around the park. It made the kids a lot more confident when approaching them.”
37 Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
“The kids absolutely loved this ride. We went on it so many times – it wasn’t on tracks, so it was really smooth.”
38 Calming accommodation
“You think Disney hotels will be Mickey Mouse mad, but that wasn’t the case at all. The BoardWalk Inn was a really nice, relaxing space for adults too,” says Tom.
39 Parisienne sweet treats
Serving up delicious crêpe recipes created by celebrity chef Jérôme Bucose, the family found La Crêperie de Paris in EPCOT was one of their favourite dessert spots.
40 Being able to queue virtually
“As Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is so popular, we booked in the morning and joined a virtual queue. It meant we didn’t have to spend loads of time away from the family queuing – and you could still do Rider Switch,” says Tom.
41 Loving the Disney Boardwalk
When you stay at a Disney hotel, entertainment is never in short supply – especially if you stay at one of the Deluxe resorts. “The Boardwalk would really come alive at night with street performers and shows,” enthuses Nicola. “We’d watch one downstairs and then go back up to our room and watch the rest from the balcony. Georgia’s eyes would light up watching – she wants to be an acrobat when she grows up now!”
Georgia wants to be an acrobat when she grows up now!
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42 Fine dining with the Beast
“We booked lunch at Be Our Guest, a French Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant set in Beast’s Castle, and it was brilliant. You walk into the main ballroom, which looks exactly like the one from the film, and the Beast walks around and waves to everyone. It even looks like it’s snowing outside,” says Nicola. “The food was delicious too, with things like octopus and steak on the menu.”
43 Riding on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
While Tom isn’t a major Star Wars fan, he admits this ride turned out to be one of his favourites: “This was a real experience. There were so many parts to it. You really do feel like you’re about to be captured by Kylo Ren – even the staff were in character!”
44 Water slides with a difference
Typhoon Lagoon is home to exhilarating water slides aplenty, but Nicola and Tom liked how they’d even thought of the smaller things. “There were life jackets for the kids, and guests staying in Disney resort hotels were able to enjoy free towel hire.”
45 Meeting Mickey and Minnie
“The kids loved meeting Mickey and Minnie. They got their autograph books signed and had a cuddle.”
46 No-hassle transport
“The parks can get really busy, so we were worried travelling between them would be stressful, but that really wasn’t the case,” says Nicola. “The bus that took us to Typhoon Lagoon had space for the buggy, was really accessible and we didn’t struggle to find a seat.”
47 Broadway-worthy entertainment
All-singing, all-dancing shows are performed at regular intervals across the parks throughout the day and the family took full advantage of them. “Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage was one of our favourites – it was like a West End production!” says Nicola. “The musical included all the songs from the film, and it was only 30 minutes long, which meant the kids didn’t lose their attention span!”
48 Food to go
With the My Disney Experience app, the Friends were able to order food when they were out and about, and have it cooked at a time that suited them. “We could order on the app whenever we had downtime, and then when we were nearby, we simply had to press a button and they’d start cooking the food in time for our arrival!”
49 The Magic Kingdom firework display
“Disney Enchantment was such a good display and even if you weren’t at the front, you could still see it, as they projected the show all along Main Street, so nobody was left out.”
50 A parting gift
“There was a Disney shop outside of our hotel, so on the last day when our passes had run out, we went in and the kids were allowed to choose a present each, which they really enjoyed,” says Nicola.
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