Hello again Mouseteens! Today, in the last part of my Senior Trip planning series we will cover planning your days in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom and provide a little recap of our journey together.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Originally a working television and movie studio, this park’s tagline is “The Hollywood that never was and always will be.” Currently this park is undergoing major refurbishment for Star Wars and Toy Story lands, but there are still many shows and rides to enjoy. Two of Walt Disney World’s best thrill rides are here and the park is a hub for Star Wars offerings.
Hollywood Studios Tips-
Check out the stars in the ground by the Great Movie Ride, some celebrities have left their mark!
If you sit in the front of the crowd at Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and are at least 18 years old, you may have a chance to be an extra in the show.
Must see’s for teens at Hollywood Studios-
Tower of Terror– Plummet into the twilight zone at a haunted hotel.
Rock n Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith– A step up in insanity from Space Mountain, this indoor coaster launches you from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds. Take advantage of the single rider line if the standby queue is long or if you do not have a Fastpass+ reservation.
Star Wars Launch Bay– Formerly the Animation Building where films such as Mulan were created, this showcase features props and characters from the Star Wars Saga. Dare to meet teen heart throb Kylo Ren or give cuddly Chewbacca a hug.
Sci-Fi Dine In– This full service eatery has you sitting in cars at a 1950’s drive in movie, movie clips on the screen included. Make sure to make a reservation to eat here.
Toy Story Midway Mania– Shoot in a carnival style 3D game where you shoot targets with Woody and his pals. Lines for this ride are extremely long and I question if it’s worth the hype. But after riding and having an absolute blast, I remember why its so hyped!
Citizens of Hollywood– An entourage of Hollywood residents including starlets, directors, and singers roam the street, interacting with guests and causing mischief.
Fantasmic– This nighttime spectacular features Mickey Mouse, music, mist effects, and fireworks. This is a great chance to see classic Disney movie characters. If you are like me and my friends, you’ll leave the show belting Disney tunes like Part of Your World and Colors of the Wind.
Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular: This firework show is themed to Star Wars music and features characters from the saga.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
This park is much more than a zoo. The animal habitats are in themed exotic environments of the world with attractions, shows, dining, and shopping. Kilimanjaro Safaris features real animals. The Savannah is bigger than Magic Kingdom Park. Traditionally some people preferred to tour this park in a half-day, but soon new nighttime entertainment will add new elements to the park including a nighttime safari and a water spectacular called Rivers of Light, opening late 2016.
Animal Kingdom Tips–
The animals in the park are most active in the morning and night.
My favorite spot to meet Mickey and Minnie is in this park at the Adventurer’s Outpost. I typically visit as I’m leaving the park and have never waited more than ten minutes! Plus they are in cute safari gear and get dolled up for Christmas.
Every Disney park has a themed Starbucks in it. At Animal Kingdom it’s on Discovery Island. At Magic Kingdom it’s on Main Street. Epcot, it’s near the Character Spot. The Starbucks at Hollywood Studios is at the corner of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard.
Many of the props at the parks were actually brought back from Africa and Asia. The Disney Imagineers did an extensive study overseas to make the lands as accurate as possible.
Must see’s for teens at Animal Kingdom–
Expedition Everest– This rollercoaster goes through Mount Everest where the mysterious Yeti may be lurking. Take advantage of the single rider line if needed.
Dinosaur- Take a jeep back in time to the dinosaur era where you are racing against an asteroid shower.
Kali River Rapids– You voyage on a circular raft down the wavy Chakranadi River. Watch out for the loggers. They are known to cause forest fires…
Maharajah Jungle Trek– A winding wooded trail that takes you past a variety of Asian animal exhibits including bats, kimodo dragons, an aviary, and tigers.
Festival of the Lion King– This round theater spectacular is a retelling of the Lion King, musical theater style. It’s much shorter than the one on Broadway, but still a treat using puppets, bright costumes, and the fan favorite monkey acrobats.
Yak and Yeti Local Food Cafe– This quick service spot located next to Kali River Rapids serves Asian dishes.
According to the Walt Disney World website, there are 341 restaurants on property! Talk about variety. It can be overwhelming to choose sometimes. The official Walt Disney World website has a great dining section where you can filter by location, cuisine, type of dining, price, rating, and if the dining plan is included. You can even make reservations. Check it out here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/. For busy teens on the go, you’ll probably be eating at a lot of quick service eateries. They don’t require reservations and are cheaper. You can compare it to fast food. While there are things like burgers, there are also more unique options as well, especially in World Showcase.
MouseTeens contributor Kaitlyn Delia wrote a great series for teens dining at Walt Disney World. I highly recommend checking it out!
Magic Kingdom: The Teen Only Guide to Eating in the Magic Kingdom
Hollywood Studios: The Teen Only Guide to Eating in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Animal Kingdom: The Teen Only Guide to Eating in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
What is the Dining Plan and is it worth it for teens?: The dining plan is where you pay before your vacation to have meal credits. The upside is ease and not having to worry about paying on the trip. You can find value, but only if you tend to order the most expensive options. Meals include a drink and dessert. I typically don’t get either with my meal (A cup of water is free!) and bring my own snack so personally it’s not a good value for me. But if you are planning to eat at multiple table service restaurants and tend to order the more expensive entrees, it can be a great idea. If you travel in September, take advantage of the free dining plan if it’s offered. To get the Dining Plan, you have to book a Magic Your Way Package via the Disney website. There are five different dining plans. To get more information, check out this link: Official Disney Dining Plan Advice
With a great plan and a little bit of pixie dust, you can have a great senior trip to Walt Disney World! My Disney Experience is a great tool for organizing your dining and Fastpass+ reservations. Every trip I take, I like to make a Google Doc with the important information I gathered. The great thing about Google Docs is you can share it with friends to edit.
Below is an early draft of our plan I made to figure out the costs and how long we should stay. It was my friend Mallory and I traveling, so I put the cost for one person and for both of us. It’s not vital to know the park schedule when booking, but is helpful to see how many nights you want to stay. You want to have an idea two months out when you book Fastpass+ or, if you are trying to book a hard to get dining reservation, six months out.
Here’s a recap of the steps I recommend:
Choose Travel Dates
Book and Choose Hotel
Choose Park Days
Plan little details
To wrap up, I’m going to post things I learned from my senior trip. If you have any questions, please comment below or message me on Twitter @orreed. I love helping, especially when it comes to Disney vacations!
What I learned from MY Senior Trip
Don’t skip out on character opportunities because of age. Interacting with characters were some of my favorite moments. At Universal, giving sass to Megatron while my friend was terrified was quite hilarious. If you kiss Mickey Mouse in front of Minnie like my friend Brittany and I did, he may be a little upset…
Adding matching outfits was really fun. Some days we wore the same tank top or shared a common theme like princess’ with tiaras. If you have access to one, the Disney outlet has some fantastic deals. Some stores with cute Disney stuff without breaking the bank are Target, Rue21, Kohl’s, Hot Topic, and Papaya.
We didn’t do full service dining, which I think was a good choice. While they are nice, we ate really good food at quick service and saved some money.
Brittany vlogged the trip. Even if you don’t post it to YouTube, rewatching the footage is a wonderful memory and I highly recommend taking some kind of video.
Take breaks and don’t overdo it. Our day at Hollywood Studios was really relaxing and much needed. Sometimes, talking to friends at an air conditioned counter service can be just as much fun as an E-Ticket attraction.
To customize my Magic Band, I painted it with glitter nail polish and it turned out super cute! It was cheaper than the Magic Band Skins at the parks and I think cuter.
My friend’s mom was kind enough to gift us with Photopass Memory Maker. It was a package where we got a digital download of every single photo we took. If you buy it in advance, it’s $150. If you see a Photopass Photographer, simply have them take the picture and upload to your Magic Band. You also get ride photos. It was a very nice perk to have. You can also use Photopass and just buy one print. They are free to take, and you can purchase them online or in the parks.
Regardless of what happens, it’s the friends who make the trip. Personally, the more the merrier. I traveled with my friend Mallory but she has friends in Orlando so one day we were hanging out with six people.
Making memories with friends is a blast and is really what its all about.
I hope I have provided an informative and fun guide to plan an awesome senior trip! This is my first article and I’m truly appreciative of everyone who checked out my work.
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