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How To Disney: A Collegiette’s Guide to the Magical World of Disney

Disney – it’s magical. It’s wonderful. It’s…expensive. Exhausting. So much walking. But, irrevocably, magical.

I was lucky enough to spend fall break at Disney World with my two best friends/roommates, and it was, hands down, one of the best weeks of my life. Coming back to reality after a week at the happiest place on earth was a bit tough, but we came back with so many memories that I can’t even begin to explain them all.

From my experience, I’ve gathered a few tips/tricks/general guidelines for those who are thinking about going to Disney, or those who already have a trip planned. (Just for a disclaimer, I am in no way flaunting my experience. I simply want to help those who are thinking about planning a trip themselves and might be a little lost.)

So, without further ado – my crash course for a trip to Disney World.

Planning for your trip

Make sure you have everything together around six months in advance, including plane tickets (which can get expensive), hotel reservations (same point as before), park tickets, and a general schedule of what you want to do. Fastpass+ reservations are available 60 days before your trip, so make sure to get those so you can get past all the long lines for the popular rides.

In terms of packing, make sure to pack walking shoes – you don’t want to have blisters when you’re walking 9 miles a day (literally that’s what my fitbit said – it was crazy).

After all this is done, insert pre-Disney excitement.


Traveling from the Orlando airport to your hotel might be tricky, but only if you’re not going to a Disney hotel. You might have to pay cab fare, or you could rent a car from a company that allows underage (under 25) adults to rent their cars for an extra price. While at Disney, they have a great bus system that you can take advantage of that’ll take you everywhere you need to go.


Enjoy yourself! Eat food that’s not from the dining hall, meet your favorite characters, ride your favorite rides. It’s not Catholic Disney Land, but it’s still Disney.

Magic Kingdom

This park has four ‘lands’ – Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. You’ll spend a great deal of time in each one, especially if you’re there for more than one day. If you get lost, the castle will guide you home (kind of like the Dome does).

Top Rides – Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion

My roomates and I on Space Mountain, casually being the Schuyler Sisters #werk


The world of the big golf ball. This park is separated into World Showcase and Future World, and most of the rides are the Future World part of the park. However, World Showcase is where it’s at. You can have food from around the world, talk to people that are actually from that country (we talked to an English guy at the pub in the London part of the World Showcase – it was glorious).

Top Rides – Soarin, Test Track, Mission: Space, Spaceship Earth

Animal Kingdom

The animals were so darn cute (besides the yeti) that our camera rolls were flooding with pictures. We went from Africa, to Asia, to Dino-land (it was awesome, don’t knock the Primeval-Whirl, it’s a fun ride).

Top Rides – Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Festival of the Lion King, Kali River Rapids (you’ll get wet!)

Hollywood Studios

Put on your feather boas and pearls – it’s showtime. Hollywood Studios is the place of stunt shows, thrill rides, and Frozen sing-alongs that will get the songs stuck in your head for hours. People say that this park is one of the more forgettable ones, but you can completely make a day out of it. Make sure you watch some of the street shows they do, they’re actually really fun to watch, and you might get chosen for one.

Top Rides – RockN’Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania, Star Tours, The Great Movie Ride

General Tips

  • Don’t be afraid to explore, we found quite a few hidden treasures in places we wouldn’t have thought to check before.

  • When people ask where you’re from, say you’re from Notre Dame. We ended up talking to so many Notre Dame alums, and it was an amazing way to experience the vast nature of the Notre Dame network!

  • Play games (I recommend Heads Up) in long lines. It kept us sane in one-hour lines when it was hot outside.

  • Get creative with ride photos, even if you’re not going to keep them afterwards.

  • Sunscreen. Need I say more?

  • There are Starbucks in every park, but the lines get astronomically long.

  • I really hate to say this, but don’t forget about the homework you have due after break. If neglected, it will come back to haunt you (and it won’t be a happy Disney ghost).


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Images 1, 2, 3, 4 (Remaining image provided by author) 

Shelly Hank

Notre Dame '19

Shelly (Noun) (pronounced shell-ee) Definition: Notre Dame Grad #LyonsLove, Cat Lady, Hockey Enthusiast, and Taylor Swift disciple.
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