This is the BEST time to get to Disney World!
The temperatures for April are as near perfect as Florida can experience. By April the weather is past the variable winter months and instead enjoys a consistent temperature between 72 - 87 degrees. You can leave the jackets at home!
EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FLOWER AND GARDEN FESTIVAL
EPCOT’s annual festivals have continued to grow in popularity and visual and culinary offerings. One of the largest festivals, The Flower and Garden Festival happens from March 1st to May 29th, so by April it is in full swing! The festival centers around amazingly detailed Disney-themed topiaries and garden spaces. In the past few years the festival has continued to expand with the addition of outdoor kitchens offering original culinary creations and the outdoor concert series. This festival is beginning to gain the fandom of EPCOT’s fall Food and Wine Festival, yet remains laid back and quiet. It really adds an extra layer of fun and excitement on top of Disney’s already amazingness.
First off, the characters! Currently, the only character meal in Animal Kingdom, Tusker House gives you a chance to mix and mingle with your favorites Disney pals in Safari themed costume. While the exact characters present each day can change, everytime we have been there we have met, Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy. This is one of the few places to meet Daisy without having to wait in the long lines in Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios. And since they closed the Camp Minnie/Mickey area, there are not a lot of other ways to see the Fab Five in their Safari outfits. This meal is also a great choice if you have kids in tow that are not into princesses. My boys have always loved it!
A second great feature of Tusker House is the menu. The buffet at Tusker House focuses on American and African inspired dishes. There is always a large variety of options to pick from and while some of the choices are definitely more adventurous that most Disney character buffets, I find it to be a refreshing change!
For the picky eater in your group, there are still lots standard options such as macaroni and cheese, corn dog nuggets, salads, deli meats, and chicken dishes. But this buffet also offers hummus, pork shoulder, taboulleh, couscous, and my favorite, mango chutney. I could put that on everything! For desert they also have baklava and banana-cinnamon bread pudding.
Finally, my other favorite feature of Tusker House is its location. Located off the main drag of the Harambe Marketplace in the Africa section of the park, Tusker House is so much more quiet and not as crowded as other areas of the park. And yet, being in Africa, it is easily reached from everywhere.
Tusker House now serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but lunch is by far my favorite time to go. Our go-to itinerary has us at Animal Kingdom when it opens to see the Safari and ride the rides in the morning before the park gets crowded and then to head to a sit down lunch to cool off, refuel, and make a game plan for the rest of the day. From Tusker House it is easy to get back out into the park or to head to the exit if you are ready to call it day.
Overall, if you are looking for a fun character meal and or just a great place to take a break for lunch, Tusker House is a really great option!
I write a lot about Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Not because Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are not fun and amazing in their own right, but really just because as the mom of two young boys and a foodie thats where we spend the bulk of our time. Animal Kingdom, while perhaps not my favorite park, is certainly in my opinion the most beautiful. Artfully designed and constructed, Animal Kingdom offers lush landscapes, seemless theming, and a with the addition of Pandora, a fresh area full of delicious food and fun attractions. The park also walks a fine line of traditional theme park attractions, beautiful animal landscapes, and some of the best live performance shows in all of Disney World.
Tree of Life
The Tree of Life serves as the center point of the park with the various lands located around it. Even from afar the tree is impressive in its size, but up close you will see the intricate carvings of animals. This is a must check out as it is a work of art. My kids love to point out and try to find all the different animals hidden in the "roots" of the tree. Also note, that if you go see Its a Bug's Life show (which is adorable by the way!) you will walk down further into the root structure and see more of the carvings.
The newest of the "lands" to come to Animal Kingdom, Pandora opened this past summer in May 2017. And its pretty remarkable. Even if you are not a fan of Avatar or havent event seen it, this is still a must do area for the attractions and the food. I have written a more detailed review of both Pandora and Santu'li Canteen for you to check out, but to summarize, the main two attractions there are Flight of Passage and Navi River Journey. Flight of Passage is the thrill ride where you board that back of a simulated Banchee and fly through the landscapes of Pandora. It is a mix of roller coaster fun with very well done simulation. If you have trouble with simulation rides, just know that this one is intense. But if you are up for it, you are in for an amazing ride that catapults you into the future of thrill attractions.
The second main attraction is Navi River Journey which is a slow moving boat ride through the lush tropical landscapes of the fictional Pandora world. This is ride is for everyone and features some really beautiful animatronics!
Not to be missed is the food! Now Satu'li Canteen is a truly immersive eating experience. You have to try and I think you will love it!
Expedition Everest remains the true highlight of the park in terms of rides. On Expedition Everest you board a train headed deep into Mt. Everest in search of the elusive Yeti. You travel through two mountains only to find your track destroyed. I can't give away the rest! The ride us fast and has some great drops.
While it is a thrill ride, it is more along the line of Thunder Mountain and other easy going roller coasters. It can be a bit jerky at times and bang up your ears if you dont hold your head back. It can also boast some of the longest lines.
There is a Single Rider Line as well, so if you dont mind being split up from your group, this is a great option!
The second biggest attraction in the park is the Kilimanjaro Safari. You board a large transport "bus" and travel through the open plains, shade forestscapes, wetlands to see wild animal in their 'natural' habitat.
This truly is an amazing ride that never disappoints. You can see antelopes, baboons, lions, hippos, crocodiles, cheetahs, zebras, and so many other animals walking freely about.
I recommend heading directly to the Safari located in the Africa section of the park first thing in the morning. Thats feeding time and the animals are much more lively. As the day heats up, the number of animals you may see will decrease. That said, I've done the Safari at mid-day and its still amazing.
Well clearly its not called Animal Kingdom for the fun of it! Not only are animal habitats seamlessly hidden in the walking areas throughout the park, but you can also venture through three "walking trails" and get up close with some animals. The Maharajah Jungle Trek, Rafiki's Planet Watch, and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, allow you to see a lot of animals in their more natural habitats. Sometimes we do all of these if we are really committing to a full day at AK, but frequently we may skip one or two if our touring plan is shorter.
DinoLand U.S.A. has several smaller attractions, that depending on your group, you may want to skip.
The first is Dino-Rama. Dino-Rama is a smaller area of dinosaur-themed carnival type rides and games. While the games are not our favorite thing, my youngest loves the Triceratops Spin which is very similar to Dumbo in Magic Kingdom, but with Triceratops.
Also located in DinoLand is the Boneyard, an interactive playground. My young kids beg to go here and getting them to leave can be a challenge. But they love being able to climb and explore through the rocks and fossils. There are not enough places in Disney World that just let the kids run around! So this one is especially fun for young kids.
The largest ride in DinoLand is "Dinosaur" which time travels to the Dinosaur Age in search of an Iguanodon. It is a thrill ride and is dark. You come face to face with a carnataurus and other carnivores. You can check out our full review of Dinoland here.
The other real attraction for Animal Kingdom is the amazing live shows. The Finding Nemo, Lion King, and Flights of Wonder are very well done. My kid love the Lion King show in particular, but the Finding Nemo show is perhaps the perfect cool down location at AK. Its dark and breezy. I loved the show and my husband loved the nap!
While I neglect to write about Animal Kingdom, it is a wonderful park full of beauty and adventure. We usually spend a good part of a day in the park, although it would be easy to spend more. I certainly do recommend getting Fast Passes for Pandora if you can, but also the Kilimanjaro Safari and Expedition Everest! Let me know what your favorite attraction is!
Overall the Magic Kingdom is the best park for kids under 4 years old. It has the most rides, characters, and eating options for them. However, even some of the rides can be a bit dark or scary for young kiddos, so here are our top 5 rides for toddlers at the Magic Kingdom:
1. Peter Pan! - This is all time favorite ride at Disney World. With no heigh requirement, everyine can load up into a magical pirate ship and travel over London and Neverland and relive the story. This ride is also incredibly popular so the line queues can be crazy. I recommend either using a Fast Pass for this ride or heading to it first thing in the morning.
2. Winnie the Pooh - Winnie the Pooh ride has taken over what used to be Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in Fantasyland. The ride travels with Pooh and his friends through a quick story/dream world in search of honey. The wait times arent terrible for this ride and the interactive queue and play area are always a big hit with the kids.
3. Dumbo - Always a classic! The Dumbo ride allows you to soar above the near Circus area of the Magic Kingdom. With 2 rides, the lines move faster than they used to and they also have integrated an indoor playground. I have trouble getting my kids out of the playground to get on the ride itself!
4. Under the Sea - Part of the new Fantasyland area uses classic Disney animatronics and great design to retell the story of the Littler Mermaid.
5. Teacups - The Mad Hatter's Tea Party with spinning Teacups is always a hit with the little ones as you can make it go as fast or as slow as you want. This ride has a very short line on most days so its also a great way to get a quick ride in when you might be having a child fed up with the lines and crowds.
Tara is a Disney-obsessed Mom of two active boys!