We recently headed down south for the first time and you can safely say we were slight overwhelmed with the sheer amount of things to do and see, in Florida. But it was a blast and we want to help you be the best tourist if you only had 72 hours. (This might be simply a Disney World Travel Guide…)
If you’re new to Florida, this is the guide for you. We choose to be pure tourists, eating funnel cake and walking around with Minnie Mouse ears (as grown adults, by the way) since we’ve never had the opportunity to visit.
Day 1 – Magic Kingdom
Hard to avoid this one, Walt Disney World is, of course, Florida’s main attraction, but there’s a few things you need to know if you’re visiting. Disney World is split into multiple parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom) that will take you days to fully appreciate. It’s honestly impossible to see them all in one full day, so we recommend going for Magic Kingdom if you want the most wholesome Disney experience. That’s where you’ll find the famous Cinderella Castle, the Disney mascots and princesses, and the famous 9PM fireworks that will make your heart sing and eyes well up in pure utter joy.
Here’s how to survive Magic Kingdom
Buy your tickets in advance and–this is important—make sure to create a Disney account linking all your theme park tickets to the account. If you’re going as a group, it’s preferred to purchase the tickets all at once so they can be linked to one single account. This leads to an app that will maintain your sanity throughout the overwhelming hustle and bustle of Magic Kingdon—the FastPass+.
The FastPass+ will help you skip lines and plan your day way more efficiently, which is important considering you only have a day. You initially get to choose 3 experiences, but once you’ve completed that, you can only reserve 1 experience at a time. For example, in the morning, we choose to meet Cinderella at 8:45AM, then Mickie Mouse at 9:00AM, and then ride Space Mountain at 10:05—after that, it was 1 RSVP at a time (the app won’t let you choose more than that). All you do is go through the dedicated FastPass+ lines and everyone linked to that Disney account scans their card for entrance. We literally have no idea why visitors spent hours in line, when the FastPass+ lanes were empty most of the time!
Day 2 – Kennedy Space Center
If you’re staying close to Disney World, you can expect a solid 1.5 hour drive to the Kennedy Space Center, but it’s so worth it. Whether you’re a spacebuff or not, this is a great place to visit to fully appreciate the length humankind has gone to explore our origins. It’s a much more relaxed atmosphere, with a little less traffic than Disney World, and you can easily visit all experiences within 8-10 hours. The world can be unforgiving and scary at times, but being able to hear about where we’ve been and where we’re headed to can feel re-assuring.
If you can must it after 48 hours of intense walking, laughing, and heat, Cocoa Beach is right around the corner from the Kennedy Space Center.
Day 3 – Drive into Tampa
The areas around Disney World can feel a little sleepy, so make sure to drive into Tampa for the high-rises, shopping, and the beaches. We winged our 3rd day and ended up at the Ben T. Davis Beach—it’s a super narrow shoreline, but does the job if you just want to lay on the sand and catch some rays, and swim in the Atlantic. Unfortunately, the sand isn’t soft or clean, but we spent the day driving around Tampa instead of looking for the perfect beach. We do recommend seeing Cocoa Beach of Daytona Beach for a way better experience!
Stay in an AirBnB, close to Disney World, if you can. Resorts are cool, but if you’re all above the age of 16, it can get a little old. We were in a quiet neighborhood in Davenport, Florida—40 minutes away from Orlando airport and 20 minutes away from Disney World!
You can pack food and drinks going into Disney World, so save a couple bucks by bringing your own water bottles or snack bars. On that note, bring sunscreen and hats—you will not regret having too much of either!