As you probably know, I went to Orlando last weekend for vacation — but what you may not know is that this is the first time I’ve EVER been to Disney World or Universal Studios! Yes, I’m almost 25 years old and YES, I was super excited to visit Magic Kingdom more than anything. My inner 4 year old leaped out when I first saw Cinderella’s Castle from miles away, and when I got up close, I finally understood why everyone says that it’s the happiest place on Earth (I know that’s cheesy but I don’t care). I wanted to write a travel guide/itinerary for those of you who are planning on going to Orlando and want a little inspo on where to go and what to do. If you’re already a pro at navigating through the parks, give the post a read for some cool Orlando sites that you may not have seen before, and make sure to let me know your tips so I can use them the next time I go!
I’ll be detailing each day of my trip to Orlando + showing you guys my outfits and the links for EVERYTHING I wore to each park!
DAY 1: ICON PARK + DOWNTOWN DISNEY (DISNEY SPRINGS)
Day 1 might vary from person-to-person depending on the type of transportation you’re using to get to Orlando, and how far you are from these attractions. My boyfriend and I drove down to Orlando from Atlanta (about a 6 hour drive without stops). The drive was painless, and it’s always so fun to road trip with snacks and the right music and podcasts! Once we got to Orlando and checked into our hotel, we were super excited to explore the city. We wanted to do something fun without getting too tired, and ICON Park was the right place to go!
ICON Park is a shopping and entertainment district in Orlando, and it’s the perfect place to go to pass time if you’re not going to the Disney or Universal parks. We had just enough time to explore the park, and here are some of the coolest things we found:
The Wheel at Icon Park is a London-Eye type ferris wheel that takes you up 400-ft and gets you an incredible view of the city for $27.99 per person. We went on a Wednesday night, and there weren’t that many people in the area, so we got a private capsule all to ourselves (which would normally cost $100). They have refreshments and a bar right before you get on, and you can take food and drinks up with you! The entire ride is 23 minutes total and they’re playing some really great music the whole time, too.
The Starflyer at Icon Park is the tallest starflyer in the world. These are some of my favorite rides wherever I go, so I knew I had to try it. It takes you up 450 ft, and rotates at a speed of 45 mph. The cool Orlando breeze felt amazing up there, so if you can handle heights, I’d say this is a MUST TRY!
**Disclaimer: We were provided complimentary tickets to the Wheel at ICON Park for a review, but all opinions are my own.
Disney Springs is probably the cutest little shopping center I’ve ever seen – it’s basically an extension of Magic Kingdom because you’re surrounded by everything Disney. It’s a mall and a restaurant haven all in one, and it’s right around the corner from Epcot. We loved walking around under the lights, grabbing some food, strolling into the shops, and taking in all the ~Disney~ before actually GETTING to Disney.
Restaurant Recommendation: We went to Enzo’s Hideaway for dinner and unfortunately, I was super hungry and forgot to take a picture of my food so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Overall, I really liked the ambience of the restaurant, and I also thought the food was great (probably a 7/10). I had the Rigatoni Pasta dish, but the entire menu looked amazing!
Another awesome place to check out would be the Coca-Cola Rooftop Beverage Bar! This is on top of the Coca-Cola themed store, and it was a really cool concept. They had both non-alcoholic and alcoholic coke-based drinks, and it has a perfect view of Disney Springs!
Dress: This dress is actually super old so I don’t remember where I got it, but here’s a similar one!
To be honest, before I came on this trip, I was MOST excited for Epcot. All I knew was that it was the more “adult” park with really great food from different countries, and also some pretty cool rides (which is true for the most part, but I do have a funny story coming up so bear with me).
If you have never been to Epcot, let me go through how it works. The park is sectioned off into two different areas: the World Showcase and the rides. The World Showcase is where you essentially walk around in a giant loop, and each part of the loop is a different country. You get to experience foods and drinks and music of the respective countries, and it’s so much fun! The cool part also is that the employees are dressed in garments from the countries whose booths they are working at, which I thought was a nice touch. I also fell in love with the detail that was put into the architecture in each country — for a split second, I felt like I was actually in Europe!
Next, there are also some great rides at Epcot, and this is where you can use your Fastpass. Disney provides three Fastpasses with every reservation, and these passes basically act as an express lane for rides. It’s recommended to book these rides weeks in advance because they do fill up fast. The rides we booked for Fastpass included: Soarin’, Misson: Space, and Spaceship Earth.
a) Soarin‘ was one of the greatest rides EVER. It’s kind of like a virtual reality/simulation ride where it takes you all throughout the world and you literally feel like you’re flying over places like the Eiffel Tower, Niagara Falls, and even African safaris. If there weren’t so many people in line, I would have gone on this ride 10 more times.
b) Spaceship Earth is a super educational ride that takes you through the history of the world. It was really fun for me because I’m a history nerd (I still miss my AP World History class), but we only chose it because nothing else was available on the list. It’s a great ride to go on when it’s super hot and you need a break for 20 minutes, but don’t waste your time in the line if you don’t have Fastpass.
c) Mission: Space: Ok, this is where the funny story comes in (it’s still too soon for me though). I got on this ride thinking it would be super fun because I’m really into space and astronomy, and plus it looked like a kiddie ride from the outside. Little did I know….it wasn’t so “kiddie.” This is my official *spoiler alert* so if you don’t want to know, skip this section! You’re divided up into teams of 4, and then you go into this small capsule that closes completely. You’re asked to guide a mission to Mars, and the capsule basically attempts to simulate how it would feel if you were on a spaceship. Once it was time to “blast off,” the capsule tilted back about 70 degrees and started rotating vigorously. I had the most intense motion sickness of my life at this time, and the ride had just started. Let me just add in, I have never gotten any type of motion sickness on rides, and I love rollercoasters, so this should have been easy. There was a lot of turbulence once we were finally “in space” and the fact that the doors were closed shut was also not helping my nausea. 5 minutes later, the ride was finally over, but I had motion sickness for the next hour. 10/10 would NOT recommend (I suggest using your Fastpass on a better ride, like Test Track).
Restaurant Recommendations: Although there are some amazing delicacies at the booths in the World Showcase, Epcot also has some great restaurants within the “countries.” Restaurant Marrakesh is Mediterranean and a great option.
For dessert, head over to France and check out Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie — they have the most mouthwatering pastries! Belgium also had some yummy waffles!
Overall, my Epcot experience was pretty great (minus that last ride), and I would definitely go again!
I’d say Islands of Adventure is the most active and accommodating park. There’s enough to do for both adults and kids, so it works out perfectly. I had a great experience on every ride I went on, and of course, Harry Potter World was absolutely incredible (yes, the Butterbeer is a must).
We didn’t get the Universal Express Pass, because it’s another $70 on top of the ticket, so we had to wait in lines for most of the day. It was always worth it though, because we were able to go on some amazing rides! Here are some of my favorites:
a) The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman: This ride was really cool because it was in 4D, so they give you glasses to wear. There are a lot of jerks and movement of the seats since it’s a simulation, but it was still super fun!
b) Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey: SUCH a thrilling ride! This was a little bit more intense than Spiderman because the seats do rotate and tilt backwards and there are even more jerks (so if you do have motion sickness, this wouldn’t be the best ride to go on). It kind of blends Soarin’ and the Spiderman rides, so it’s a must-ride if you’re a HP fan!
c) Flight of the Hippogriff: This was one of the “roller coasters” in HP World, and it was super fun! It’s not too fast and not too slow – just right.
d) Incredible Hulk: Do I even need to say anything? Even if you don’t know about the other rides, I’m sure you know about the Incredible Hulk. It’s one of the most notorious roller coasters around, and for good reason. I’m the type of person that does get anxious right before getting on a roller coaster, but when I’m on it, I have the time of my life. This one was an 11/10.
Restaurant Recommendation: Since you’re probably going to be at the park for the majority of the day, you will need a good lunch option. We went to a restaurant called Mythos, which had a mix of Mediterranean, Asian, and American cuisine. I got the Gnocchi Bolognese, which was INCREDIBLE. It’s probably the best gnocchi I’ve ever had, and I’ve also had Trader Joes’ Cauli Gnocchi…. so you know I’m telling the truth. We did have to wait 45 minutes because we didn’t have a reservation, so try to reserve your park lunches ahead of time!
Central Perk Tank (found this on sale for $6, and then I cut it up and made it a tie-front top!
Magic Kingdom was….. an experience, both good and bad. It’s definitely going to be the most crowded park you visit in Orlando, and if you go on a weekend, expect to see 2 hour + waits for rides where you don’t have Fastpass. The lines actually start before you even get to Magic Kingdom, because it’s only accessible through the Monorail or the ferry. We stood in the Monorail line for about 10 minutes before we actually got to the park. Despite all the technicalities, I still had an amazing time. Once we got there, I started fangirling over the castle (don’t pretend like you wouldn’t). It’s definitely a sight to see, and it got me wishing I had the chance to visit Disney as a kid (even though I’m so thankful I got to visit now).
Finding this PERFECT picture spot at the castle and not getting anyone in the picture was an extreme sport – but all you have to do is get up on the ledge and try not to fall over. Super simple.
I’m not going to lie, this moment was one of my top 10 moments in 2019. All I wanted was to run inside the castle, but alas….
The best part about Disney, like I said earlier, is that you get 3 Fastpasses with every ticket, so you don’t pay extra. The rides we got Fastpass for included:
a) Splash Mountain – One of the most well-known rides in Disney, features a 40ft drop at the end, and you will get wet!
b) It’s a Small World – A cute little boat ride that’s very relaxing if you’ve been walking in the heat!
c) Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – One of the more thrilling Disney roller coasters – I was also surprised to see how long it was, but it was super fun!
We really wanted to get Fastpass for Space Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but those were all booked up (so make sure to reserve your rides ahead of time).
Restaurant Recommendation: We went to the Crystal Palace for dinner, and it has a perfect view of Cinderella’s Castle! It’s such a cute place, but you do have get a reservation ahead of time because they’re always very busy. They have a dinner buffet with everything you can think of and MORE, plus Winnie the Pooh and his friends are running around the restaurant while you eat…..so it’s a win-win situation.
For dessert, get the Dole Whip at Aloha Isle in Magic Kingdom! It’s super famous and SO. GOOD. There are lines around the corner, but if you order ahead with mobile order, you can go right up to the kiosk and get your ice cream!
My absolute favorite part of the day had to be the fireworks. It was unlike any other fireworks show I had ever seen before, and it made all the walking and standing in lines completely worth it.
Make sure you get your Disney (Epcot and Magic Kingdom) Fastpasses ahead of time!
Make sure to reserve your spot at restaurants at ALL PARKS ahead of time! We only reserved at the Crystal Palace so we had to wait 45+ minutes at other parks for lunch.
Order your dole whip ahead of time on your phone!
Bring disposable raincoats in case you get stuck in a storm
Bring a battery pack
Wear comfortable shoes!!!
I know this was a super long post, but I tried really hard to consolidate 4 days of vacation into one blog post, so thank you so much to those of you who made it to the end! If you have any Orlando recommendations for me, please DM me on Instagram and let me know — I’ll definitely be back there sooner than later!
*Disclaimer: This post does contain some affiliate links, which means that if you purchase the products, I get a small commission.