This is certainly much later than I anticipated sharing our 2016 plans but we’ve experienced some unfortunate and unavoidable circumstances but we have finally settled on our Disney planning (a mere 4 days out). Regardless, below are our final plans and hopefully this will provide a little insight and some tips on some “must stops” during your next Disney Vacation.
First, we will be returning to one of our favorite resorts… Pop Century! While we had originally planned to visit our first Deluxe Resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge, circumstances decided otherwise. However, if you have never visited Pop Century, please make sure you check our review (Pop Century Review) but in summary, Pop Century is a beautifully themed resort, with an incredible pool (Hippy Dippy Pool), and a dedicated bus system unlike the other Value Resorts which share their transportation. It’s a great Disney experience, with larger than life decorations, and very reasonably priced!
Secondly, let’s talk about Dining.
- Whispering Canyon Cafe – This dining experience has been recommended to us each and every year and we are finally going to make it happen. Located at the Wilderness Lodge, Whispering Canyon boasts a “western eatery fare” and most importantly fun-filled games for the entire family.
- Minnie’s Seasonal Dine Dinner at Hollywood & Vine – I know very little about this experience but I do know that this experience changes seasonally and comes highly recommended if you’re spending the evening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Currently the theme is “Minnie’s Summertime Dine” and will last until September before switching to the Halloween dining experience. Each theme provides a unique character experience with several of your favorite Disney pals,
- Yak & Yeti Restaurant Dinner – Our one and only returning experience from previous years and you’re asking why, it’s simply because our kids our Yeti crazy. We love the Expedition Everest attraction, Yeti shop, and all the surroundings. We top this off with an authentic pan-Asian dining experience. Make sure you check out our review here! (Review)
- Boma – Flavors of Africa Dinner – Since we couldn’t stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge we figured we could at least check it out for future reference. However it’s not just about checking out the resort, this dining experience comes highly recommended! Oh while we’re there, we gotta get some Zebra Domes which is a highly recommended treat for any and all Disney goers. Sorry…back to Boma! Boma offers a family friendly buffet and you’re around for Mother’s Day, an unique dining experience designed for that special day!
- La Hacienda de San Angel Dinner – Our family loves Mexican cuisine and we have been looking for the Disney version of our favorite for some time. After asking several trusted Disney veterans, all signs pointed to La Hacienda. Touting some of the best authentic Mexican cuisine in all of Orlando, if you time your reservation right, you might just get to experience the Epcot firework display at your dinner table. Definitely something to look into while planning your next Disney vacation!
Before we leave the dining topic, here are a few honorable mentions that are not necessarily reservation-based experiences and/or on the Disney Dining Plan.
- Beaches & Cream Soda Shop – While you can order the “Kitchen Sink” Sundae at multiple locations now including the Magic Kingdom, in my opinion, the experience at Beaches & Cream at the Beach Club Resort, is the best way to enjoy this massive, delectable dessert.
- Aloha Isle (Hosted by Dole) – You can’t visit the Magic Kingdom or Disney for that matter without getting a Dole Whip… enough said.
- Flame Tree Barbecue – There is absolutely no better Quick Service level dining experience in all of Disney in my humble opinion. Last year Flame Tree was closed for renovations and I can assure you, our family plans on making up for it this year.
- Sleepy Hollow – Probably one of the most delicious looking dining experiences that we haven’t tried but you can guarantee Nutella Waffle Sandwich is in our future!
- Ghirardelli – While this is not necessarily a “Disney Experience”, I simply cannot visit Disney Springs without sampling some of the best ice cream bar none. I highly recommend getting a little snack from the Ghirardelli shop or if nothing else, a quick look and smell before finishing up your shopping.
Next, while food may be one of our primary objectives, we can’t forget about Fastpasses! Below are what we believe to be some “must ride” attractions, some honorable mentions, insider tips on what not to get Fastpasses, and just some general notes.
Magic Kingdom (Days 1 & 4)
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – Get a Fastpass for this attraction! Waiting in line is simply not an option… well unless you want to wait 90 or even 120 minutes. Even obtaining a Fastpass can be challenging so book early!
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – This is just our family favorite. Wait times can be long but not always.
- Haunted Mansion – Another one of our favorites plus it’s a Disney classic. Not to mention it’s close to Sleepy Hollow for that Waffle Sandwich!
- Pirates of the Caribbean – After a year of refurbishments, one of our family favorites and Disney classic is back on our agenda once again!
- Space Mountain – I’m ashamed to admit it but i’ve never experienced Space Mountain and that’s changing this year!
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – So good, we have to do it twice!
- Honorable Mentions: Mickey’s PhilharMagic (my personal favorite no Fastpass needed), Monster’s Inc. Laughfloor (another one of my personal favorites and no Fastpass needed), Tomorrowland Speedway, and Splash Mountain (you may want to get a Fastpass for this one)
Hollywood Studios (Day 2)
- Star Tours – The Adventures Continue – Honestly this is what it’s all about… while you won’t see all of the Star Wars experiences displayed in the form of Fastpasses, our entire vacation is going to be centered around Star Wars!
- Indiana Jones™ Epic Stunt Spectacular! – Just a fun show that may not be around much longer but it’s a great filler!
- Toy Story Mania! – A must ride and just a ton of fun! You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy this experience!
- Honorable Mentions: Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster starring Aerosmith (Fastpass needed and probably the best thrill ride in Disney), Muppet*Vision 3D (no Fastpass needed, & The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (this is the final year and you better get a Fastpass!)
Animal Kingdom (Day 3)
- Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain – Our kids favorite ride and we’ll try to reload our Fastpass as much as we can and ride this until we can’t any longer
- Festival of the Lion King – Been a couple of years since we’ve experienced this show but it’s incredible!
- The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic – New for 2016 and we cannot wait. We loved the movie, we love Animal Kingdom, and so this is a must get Fastpass! Check out our movie review here! (Review)
- Honorable Mentions: DINOSAUR (need for Fastpass vary but lines are not typically very long), It’s Tough to Be a Bug (no Fastpasses needed), & Kilimanjaro Safari (need for Fastpass vary but if you have not experienced this ride, you may want to lock it in!)
Epcot (Day 5)
- Soarin’ – The new Soarin’ opens June 17th… which just happens to be our Epcot day! It took a lot of refreshing my Fastpass page but with a little persistence, we got it! Soarin’ is definitely a Disney must for the entire family!
- Meet Disney Pals at the Epcot Character Spot – You can get a lot of character Fastpasses but this is my favorite. The setup is very efficient where you bounce from one Disney pal room to the next and it’s cool (indoors)! Typically you get to see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, or Donald (3 out of the 5) and if you’re a Disney Chase Visa Cardholder you can see the other 2 that is not present for a VIP photo session directly across the breeze way of the experience. Just ask a Disney Castmember and they can point you in the right direction. It seems nearly every year our Fastpass allowed us to see Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy. The VIP Cardholder experience has typically been Pluto and Minnie (or Donald).
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends – This experience is not only about the ride but there’s a lot of aquarium viewing and photo opportunities that are just fun. It’s also a great opportunity to cool off. Not to mention with Find Dori on the horizon, it’s going to be one of the cool things to do this summer.
- Honorable Mentions: Test Track (You’ll more than likely need a Fastpass for this experience)
That’s pretty well our 2016 Disney vacation! If you have any questions, make sure you join our community and ask on our Mouse Advisor front page! Also, make sure you share your comments and opinions, our plans are tailored to our likes and preferences, not to mention we still have a lot to learn. No matter how you choose to experience Disney my main advice is to make sure you enjoy the experience, it’s meant to be that happiest place on earth, and a vacation experience like none other. If it seems like a job or you can’t seem to enjoy the experience, you’re not doing it correctly. Find your family’s Disney way of doing things and make it happen!
Look for more reviews and several updates when we return!
Have a magical summer!