[Series] The Most Magical Date on Earth: Which Disney World Park Passes to Buy

There are few places in the world that offer the same blend of magic, nostalgia and romance as a Disney theme park. For couples, they may just be the perfect place to reignite the spark in your relationship.

We were completely charmed by our experience at Disneyland in 2019 and quickly added Disney World to our bucket list for the year to come. Unfortunately, COVID put many of our travel plans on hold, but 2022 brought a surprise that was worth the wait.

One weekend in March, Mike said out of the blue, “Hey, do you want to go to Disney World for your birthday?” I almost thought it was a joke! Sure enough, he was in the process of booking our trip – I couldn’t have been more surprised!

I was so excited to celebrate my 30th birthday at Disney World, where we could spend a few fun, carefree days shaking off the stresses of everyday life. And that’s exactly what we did.

If you’re planning a Disney date, let us be your guide! In our new blog series, “The Most Magical Date on Earth,” we’ll share tips on everything from which passes to buy, what to pack and what to ride to lessons learned and our favorite experiences.

This is the first blog in our series, which covers the ins and outs of entry tickets, Genie+, MagicBand and Memory Maker. Continue reading for our recommendations and tips!

Planning a trip to Disney World? Check out the other blogs this series – “Our Favorite Disney World Experiences” and “What to Pack for Disney World” – and subscribe to Traveling Twogether for more travel tips!

Disney World Passes & Parks

With all the digital upgrades and ticket add-ons, you may feel overwhelmed when booking your trip to Disney World. I know we were! But don’t let it stress you out. Here’s the low-down:

Which Disney World park pass should I buy?

Disney park passes get you entry into each of the four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.

You can choose to visit one park per day, which is what we did, or you can choose the Park Hopper option, which allows you to visit more than one park per day. Realistically, you won’t have time to visit multiple parks in one day, so your best bet is to go with the one park per day pass.

When you purchase your park passes, you’ll be prompted to choose which theme park you want to visit each day, which takes a little advanced planning. Note that this is required in order to reserve your entry.

We flew to Orlando at 6 a.m. and took a shuttle straight to Animal Kingdom after dropping off our luggage at our hotel, Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort.

Even though Animal Kingdom is technically the largest of the four parks, we thought it was the perfect choice for a travel day, as we didn’t feel too rushed trying to navigate the park or ride a million rides. Animal Kingdom also has a pretty chill vibe, especially in the evening with the glowing bioluminescence.

With a full night’s rest, we went to Magic Kingdom on day two. This was again a great choice, as we needed to have plenty of energy to explore Disney World’s most popular park. We arrived at park open and stayed until it closed, which meant we had more than 14 hours to hit all the attractions.

Pro tip: One of the major perks of staying at a Disney Resort is that you’re granted access to the parks 30 minutes before they open to the public.

It may not sound like much time, but it’s enough to give you the chance to snap some crowd-free photos, plus you may get a front-row seat to the Magic Kingdom’s opening ceremonies with Mickey and the gang!

On the third and final day of our trip, we went to EPCOT, whose beautiful, sprawling campus takes you on a trip around the world.

I have to admit… I made a rookie travel mistake on the third day. I wore uncomfortable shoes that haunted me for hours until I finally broke down and bought a pair of Crocs sandals at a gift shop. Learn from my mistake and be sure to wear proper tennis shoes when visiting EPCOT!

The 1.2-mile walk around the World Showcase boasts 11 pavilions representing 11 countries – no surprise that France was our favorite! We ate galettes (essentially savory crêpes) at La Crêperie de Paris. Bonus points for the Orangina, my favorite French drink!

With its upscale dining, drinking and shopping, EPCOT is often named as the best Disney park for adults. True, it’s decidedly more sophisticated, but when it comes to which park is the best for adults and couples, it depends what your interests are.

Mike and I aren’t foodies or huge drinkers. We were most interested in the magic of meeting Mickey and Minnie, riding all the rides (down to the Mad Tea Party and Prince Charming’s Carousel) and watching the nightly fireworks.

If you ask me, each park offers a unique experience for couples – there’s not one that I would consider better than the others. It all comes down to your own preferences!

Is Disney’s Genie+ worth it?

Yes. Genie+ unlocks Lightning Lane (LL) entry to many rides, meaning you can bypass the standby lane. When you only have one day at each park like we did, this becomes a huge time saver. Genie+ helps ensure you’re able to ride some of the top attractions that you may otherwise miss as a result of long standby wait times.

Making a LL selection is simple – all you do is search the name of the ride on the Disney World app, then choose an arrival window. When you enter the ride’s Lightning Lane, a cast member will scan your MagicBand or physical pass to confirm your reservation, then off you go!

But there are three things you should know before purchasing Genie+:

  1. You can only reserve one ride at a time, meaning if you reserved LL for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad for 7 p.m., you would not be able to reserve another LL until you’ve ridden Big Thunder.
  2. You cannot make LL selections days in advance. Your first LL selection must be made on the day you’re visiting that park.
  3. You do still have to wait in line to ride, although it’s typically a much shorter line than standby. Disney calls it an arrival window not an arrival time.

Should I get a Disney MagicBand?

Easy answer: yes. The sheer convenience of the wearable tap-and-go wristbands make MagicBands well worth the nominal expense. Trust us!

Mike bought me a personalized MagicBand but opted not to buy one for himself. I can’t count how many times we walked up to a Lightning Lane only to wait for Mike to fumble through his wallet to find his physical pass.

You can also use your MagicBand to enter the parks and unlock the door to your hotel room if you’re staying at a Disney Resort. This comes in really handy when you need to run out of your room to pick up something like a snack from the vending machine or your DoorDash delivery (yep… speaking from experience).

Is Disney Memory Maker worth the cost?

It depends.

Memory Maker allows you to download all of the professional photos and videos captured by Disney PhotoPass photographers, as well as those snapped during certain rides. (Just look at this gem below!)

If you’re like us and want to capture every moment of your Disney experience, then Memory Maker is 100% worth the cost.

When you’re traveling as a couple, you typically end up with two types of photos: selfies or pictures of just one person. With Memory Maker, you can both be in every photo, and you have unlimited downloads.

Bonus: You get the cutest candid shots when meeting Disney characters – this picture of Mike melts my heart!

On the other hand, if you anticipate only wanting to take a couple snapshots while at the park, then it would be more economical for you to purchase those individual PhotoPass photos (which you can do on the Disney World app).

I hope this blog has been helpful as you plan the most magical date on Earth! Comment below with any questions you have or other recommendations based on your own Disney World experience!

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