Review: What kids like best at Disney World, Florida

Family with Disney Castle Florida

The whole family in front of the castle

What’s visiting Disney World like for kids? The best way to find out is ask them directly. Here, Jessica and Robert, the children of Sarah Ebner, tell us which ones to ride…and which ones to ride four times! Over to Jessica and Robert:

By Jessica and Robert Ebner-Statt

Our family was lucky enough to spend a holiday at Disney World in Florida. In this article, Robert (my 7-year-old brother) and I (aged 11) tell you which rides to go to and a few to miss out…

Family at Hollywood Studios

Feelin’ American

REVIEW: HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Our first day at Disney was the Hollywood Studios and we weren’t disappointed! There was so much to do and every street was themed like an American high street. We spent five hours in the park until we were satisfied. Luckily, we managed to get so much done in that time. Here’s what we’d recommend…

Mum Sarah’s best tip for Hollywood Studios

Toy Story Mania!
This ride is entirely different to most rides as you shoot pretend pies, hoops, darts and balls at virtual targets. We advise you to get there straight away to skip all the queues.

What’s the coolest thing about Toy Story Mania? The kids tell us in this Soundcloud clip

Robert says: I think this ride is very fun and exciting. I especially liked shooting pies at Buzz’s shield and throwing rings round aliens. I thought it was good how you got a different amount of points each time you shot an object and how you could see who was winning all through the game.

Jessica says: This ride is AMAZING!!!! You spin round and round and shoot at plates, aliens, animals and balloons with your toy cannons. It is very exciting, clever and well laid out, with giant versions of Twister and massive game boards. The best bit was shooting at the animals and the farmers as there were a lot of things to aim at. Overall, it was one of the best rides in all of Disney, and I really want to go on it again!

Star Wars: Star Tours
This is a big simulator with lots of people inside. Once you are strapped in, you’re whisked off on a journey on the StarSpeeder 1000 with C-3PO.

The kids’ Soundcloud audio review of the Star Wars: Star Tours

Robert says: This is an action-packed ride with 40 different storylines so I recommend doing it 2 to 4 times. My favourite bit was the second time, because Yoda said “may the force be with you” and Darth Vader sent bugs to nibble on our ship.

Jessica says: I really liked this ride. Although I know nothing about Star Wars, it was very exciting to go on, as the film has lots of different combinations. We went on twice and both times were entirely different. In one we battled Darth Vader, while in the other we met Yoda and joined a rebel alliance. My favourite bit was when we nearly got stomped to death by robots.

Kids outside Star Wars ride

Feeling the Star Wars excitement

Indiana Jones: Epic Stunt Spectacular
This exciting show is full of boulders, fire, booms and bangs. It involves an Indiana Jones stunt double running through caves, marketplaces and WWII hideouts with the help of volunteers from the audience.

Robert says: I liked when Indiana Jones pushed people off buildings and when he got run over by a giant boulder. I was excited when spears came out the ground and when statues came to life.

Jessica says: This show is VERY cool. It was amazing to see the stunt double dodge spears and run away from a massive rolling boulder. It was also hilarious when they picked out people from the audience and made them do funny things. The best one was when a man had to act like a really sassy girl. My favourite bit was when Indiana Jones was trying to fly away from a German hideout in WWII.

The Backlot Tour
This tour is a must-see. Full of special effects, facts and props from old films, this is fun for everyone.

Robert says: In the first bit 200 gallons of water are poured on a man’s head, as well as tidal waves and fire coming from barrels. In the second half you go into a scene from lots of films and fire is rising, so more than 1,000 tonnes of water comes from over the van and puts out the fire. There is so much water, you can’t see properly!

Jessica says: I really liked this tour, especially the first bit because there were water bombs and water cannons. It’s very interesting to hear about how they make rain and use fire in films. The best bit was when we drove through Catastrophe Canyon, a massive film set full of water.

Fantasmic
This massive show, complete with boats and fireworks, is one of the most popular attractions at Hollywood Studios.

Jessica says: I loved this show. The fireworks were really pretty and they projected clips from Disney movies onto water. My favourite bit was at the end, when all the Disney characters sailed by on a really big boat. Another really good bit was with the evil villains and lots of spooky music. It was incredible, but there was a very loud noise in the middle that scared me for the rest of the show.

REVIEW: EPCOT

We spent an “out of this world” day at Epcot which included jaw-dropping rides, a fantastic atmosphere and LOADS of walking. The park is split into two sections: Future World (which has mind bendingly awesome rides) and the Pavilions (amazing, but they get a bit boring when you’ve been walking round them for half a day!) Here are our tips:

Club Cool
Near the entrance to the park is Club Cool, an air-conditioned room full of free fizzy drink samples from around the world.

Robert says: Most of the drinks are very nice especially the lemony drink from Israel and the sugary drink from Costa Rica. The air-conditioning was very nice and cold.

Jessica says: Club Cool was really fun. There were so many fizzy drinks and you could take as much as you wanted. Most were nice, but the bitter drink from Italy and health drink from Japan tasted pretty bad.

Test Track
On Test Track, you create cars and test them in a real vehicle, going through weather, responsibility and power tests.

Robert says: The power test was my favourite because you go outside and it is like a rollercoaster. I also liked when we were driving on a wall and we nearly crashed into a car. In the weather test you go through hail, rain, snow and sun. I thought it was brilliant.

Jessica says: This was AWESOME! Our car went swerving all over the place and I screamed really loudly. I really liked the responsibility test and thought I was going to fall out of the car because it jerked so suddenly. However, the best bit by far was the power test because the car went so fast. I was sad when it started slowing down.

Mission: SPACE
In Mission: SPACE you get strapped into chairs in a simulator and have to press buttons at different times according to the role you have been given in your team. There are two choices, which are green and orange. Unluckily for our poor dad, we went on orange – the more intense option.

Robert says: I really liked the ride because everyone gets to do something and it was great to shoot bullets and put on shields. Jessica says there were G-force but I didn’t feel them. The best bit was at the end when we crashed on a cliff on Mars and fell down it.

Jessica says: “Please do not close your eyes as you may feel disorientated. Please do not look away from your screen as you may feel disorientated.” As soon as I heard those words, I should have walked away. Unfortunately I didn’t. The ride has real G-force that makes you feel heavy and stops you from swallowing. It was horrendous and the best bit was when it ended!

Soarin’
Soarin’ lets you experience hang gliding over a series of beautiful landscapes complete with real smells. This is a fabulous and relaxing ride for the end of the day.

Robert says: Soarin’ lets you experience flying. You go through forests, fields, mountains and golf courses. My favourite bit was when a golf ball nearly hit the hang-glider.

Jessica says: I really liked Soarin’ because it was so peaceful. We flew over rivers, forests smelling of pine-trees and nearly crashed into boats. I really liked the orange field because it smelt of oranges, but the most amazing bit was when a golf ball whizzed by my head. This ride is suitable for everyone.

The Pavilions
These places take up half the park and are very cool. You can spend a day looking at all the countries because there is so much to do. Every pavilion has somewhere to eat or drink and you can buy merchandise too.

Listen to the Soundcloud from the Pavilion itself

Robert says: The pavilions are fun as well as interesting. I particularly liked the Donald Duck ride in Mexico and the stamp collecting scheme for kids. I had a very nice chocolate pretzel in Norway and liked the France section. I thought it was wrong to represent Britain with a pub and some shops (one of them was a fish and chip shop). Couldn’t they have shown Big Ben or the Queen or something more interesting?.

Jessica says: I really liked the variety of the Pavilions because of the variety. Every country had a different atmosphere and different food. I thought Morocco was very cool because of the big buildings that looked like they had come straight out of Aladdin. The food was very good everywhere. China was amazing because of the big sculptures and America has a show about its history. I didn’t like Britain that much because it didn’t look anything like it actually is! It was funny to see people posing outside a phone box. Every pavilion was great, but the best had to be Mexico.

Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney is a place full of shops and games, mostly Disney themed. There are restaurants, ice-cream shops, sweet shops, a massive Lego store and the biggest Disney store in the world! There is so much to do and you can never get bored. It’s also where Disney Quest is based…

Disney Quest
Disney Quest is a massive arcade full of all games, old, new and ones which we’d never seen before. This is a place that will keep you entertained for hours and it was Robert’s favourite park.

Robert says: Disney Quest is a giant arcade with great games which include basketball, bowling, Wreckit Ralph, throwing games, shooting games, iPhone/iPad games and lots more. My favourite bit was definitely creating my own rollercoaster and going on it on a motion simulator which really goes upside down. My rollercoaster was “hang on for your life” fast, and had five out of five scaryness. It went upside down five times and was called Atomic Bomb.

Jessica says: Disney Quest was so brilliant that we went twice! Everyone in our family found something they really enjoyed and we didn’t want to leave. I really liked a pirate game where you had to shoot down ships and a place where you could record your own songs. Me and my mum made a brilliant (and true) song called “Girls are Better Than Boys.”

There were loads of games that you could play on gigantic screens. It was very exciting to play Fruit Ninja on something as big as a TV! The best bit by far was creating a rollercoaster. My one was lightning fast and had two out of five scariness. It also went upside down once and was called the Screamin’ Banshee.

REVIEW: THE MAGIC KINGDOM

Our visit to the Magic Kingdom was made extra special by being picked as Family Of The Day! We were driven around in an old fire engine and got pictures in the best spots before joining the Disney characters in the show to start the park. This made the Magic Kingdom really special, but even without this, the park was full of extremely exciting rides and activities…

Listen to what the kids had to say about opening the park…right after it happened

Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor
In this film/show, we learnt that instead of using childrens’ screams for monster electicity, laughter is much more effective. This show involves monsters telling stories and jokes to make you laugh as much as possible.

Robert says: I loved this. It was so funny. I especially liked when a monster asked someone to think of a number between 1 and 23 and the man picked 24. I also liked when Mike told a story and made people in the audience become Sully, Mike, Boo and more.
You get to meet Mike’s nephew and there are also lots of laughs popping up when you least expect them.

Jessica says: This was my favourite part of the Magic Kingdom. It was really funny and I laughed SOOO much. The best bit was when they picked out people from the audience and talked about their clothes and who did the washing. It was hilarious!

Monsters Inc at Disney

Generating power with laughter, alongside Mike Wazowski and Sully

Mickey’s PhilharMagic
This is an animated 3D film involving Donald Duck and his orchestra.

Robert says: The film starts with Mickey telling Donald not to touch his hat (the one from Fantasia), but when Donald (my favourite Disney character) disobeys, he gets whisked off into Disney films. He meets Ariel, Aladdin and Jasmine, Iago, Simba and Scar and each time, the hat drops, flies or falls into a different Disney story. I liked this a lot because it was really funny and very exciting

The Haunted Mansion
This spooky ride takes you on a tour of a haunted mansion, complete with tombstones, ghosts, crazy pictures and faces in crystal balls.

Robert says: This ride looked very good but it was a bit long and boring. I liked the bit when we went through the graveyard, because things were moving. I thought something would pop out at us but nothing did.

Jessica says: I really liked this ride because the sets were very detailed and looked quite real. It was a bit spooky, especially the pre-show. However, it wasn’t much of a ride, just a tour through an old house. That disappointed me a bit. It was quite funny to see monsters on the top of our carriage in the mirrors.

Peter Pan’s Flight
In Peter Pan’s flight, you fly over scenes from Peter Pan and see miniature versions of London, the Pirate Ship, and the Darlings’ house.

Robert says: I thought this ride was quite boring because it was very slow and not very exciting. The only bit I actually liked was when we were in a scene like a rainforest with volcanos.

Jessica says: I didn’t really like this ride that much. I don’t find Peter Pan that interesting anyway, and the scenes were quite small and less impressive than the other rides in Disneyworld. That being said, the pirate ship looked amazing, but that was probably the only bit.

The Barnstormer
The Barnstormer is a small rollercoaster for younger children and less adventurous adults. The queue is very long for a 52 second ride.

Robert says: This rollercoaster was my favourite rollercoaster ever (except for the simulator at Disney Quest) and my third favourite ride out of all of Disney. The rollercoaster is really good because it is not scary at all and doesn’t go upside down. There are lots of turns and only about one or two bits going down. I could have gone on it again and again.

Jessica says: I’m not the best person for rollercoasters, and this ride was perfect for me. It was very exciting with just the right amount of twists and turns. I just wish that it could have gone on for longer.

Robert’s Top 5 Attractions

  1. Test Track (Epcot)
  2. Disney Quest (Downtown Disney)
  3. Barnstormer (Magic Kingdom)
  4. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (Magic Kingdom)
  5. Mission Space (Epcot)

Jessica’s Top 5 Attractions

  1. Toy Story Mania! (Hollywood Studios)
  2. Disney Quest (Downtown Disney)
  3. Test Track (Epcot)
  4. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (Magic Kingdom)
  5. Mickey’s PhilharMagic (Magic Kingdom)


Sarah Ebner writes The Family Travel Times blog with her daughter Jessica.

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About Sarah Ebner

Sarah Ebner is a journalist who blogs (with her daughter) about family travel and days out at Family Travel Times. She spent five years as editor of the Times education blog School Gate, where she won the award for outstanding online commentary in 2012. She has been shortlisted four times at the British Press Awards and written for almost every national newspaper. Sarah was a producer and occasional reporter for BBC Newsnight, and is the author of The Starting School Survival Guide (published by White Ladder). She now works on the Times Sports Desk.