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Disney World vs Disney Cruise – which is better?

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Last month, our fam was invited to attend the Disney Content Creators conference that took place half at Disney World and half on a Disney Cruise aboard the Dream (see more about that HERE). Needless to say…it WAS a dream for us!! Best week ever and so thankful for those sweet memories.

The most frequently asked question when I got home was whether I liked Disney World or the Disney Cruise better. I’ve thought about it for a bit, and I think I have my answer. Granted, we were first-timers and it was a bit of a whirlwind of a trip, so take that to heart, too. After experiencing a taste of both adventures, I’ve come up with an answer! See below for a few peeks into the Disney Cruise experience, too!

NAVIGATING THE SHIP:
After a whirlwind few days exploring Disney World with our young kiddos [HERE], it was really nice to board the ship and know that things from here on out would necessarily be just a bit more…contained? That is one plus about the cruise experience: everything is right there. No driving, Ubers, busses, trams, etc. A bit of walking, yes, but nothing much, and then BAM. You’re right there in the middle of something fun!

ACTIVITIES ON BOARD:
On our ship, the Dream, there was an awesome swimming pool for the family with multiple slides (one clear tube slide that traveled above and around the perimeter of the ship!!), and they had Disney movies on loop up on the big screen all day. Our littles loved the Nemo themed splash park on deck, too! There were some adults-only areas for swimming, but we didn’t really get into those much. We were on the ship for such a short amount of time, and we wanted to see it together as a fam! I’m sure those areas would be GREAT if we needed a break on a longer cruise, though. 😉

One of our favorites was Pirate Night which was such a blast! Dance parties, fireworks and more. Such a cool experience to see everyone all dressed up, argh matey! They passed out bandanas to all on board, so no need to spend extra on a costume if you don’t want to. Our girls loved this dress up night so much!

They also offer Kid’s Club zones for different ages, and you can drop the kids off for crazy cool activities, play zones, crafts and art projects and more! Our girls wanted to test it out, so they spent about an hour in the kid’s club and loved it. We felt safe checking them in and observing their security measures (wrist bands for each kid that they have to scan, secret passwords as an extra step of caution, etc.) Again, we wanted to hang out together for the most part this time, but I could see us using this again if we went on a longer cruise.

Another top fave: the live performances! Our favorite was Beauty and the Beast, and I was so impressed with the quality of the show, cast and production overall. Definitely catch a live show if you go on the cruise!

THE FOOD:
Because two of our girls have Celiac, we were worried this trip would be tough to navigate having to constantly ask for gluten free options. Once again, Disney did NOT disappoint. Not only would they make anything off of the huge buffet line gluten free upon request, you could even place orders with the awesome wait staff during dinner for the next day, and the girls’ gluten free (and yummy!) meals would be ready and waiting! Another fave: Vanellope’s Sweet Treats for special gelato and ice cream, although the self-serve soft-serve on deck was a hit, too. 😉

THE STOPS:
Our cruise stopped in Nassau in the Bahamas first, but we decided to stay on board and explore the ship that day instead. The second stop was at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay! You guys, we had so much fun! The beaches were beautiful white sand with clear blue water, and the BBQ buffet was delish! The beach was a bit crowded just like the ship, but I mean…it’s a Disney cruise stopping at a Disney island. Errrrrrybody wants to be part of that! 😉 The vibe was really chill on the beach, and it was a beautiful day.

So which is better, Disney World or the Disney Cruise?

Really, these are two totally different experiences, so I’ll answer that question in this way:

IF YOU: have young kids and want them to experience the absolute MAGIC of Disney, start with Disney World. In my opinion, there is only a small window of time during which our kids are still young enough to be truly enchanted by something like Disney World, and that to me is worth the crowds, congestion and chaos of Disney World. Once you get in and the sweet little ones see the castle or meet a character or experience something that puts that look of pure wonder and awe on their faces…? WORTH IT.

IF YOU: have done Disney World and are over the crowds, have older kids who want a chill vibe or just really prefer a more relaxed Disney experience with your fam, the cruise is for you. The cruise still packs in the magical moments and Disney delights, just on a smaller scale which can be more manageable than the behemoth that is Disney World. Plus, you get to have some relaxed beach time on Castaway Cay which was our absolute favorite day!

Truly, these are two very different vacation experiences, so I hope this post and my post on Best Things to do at Disney World with Young Kids [HERE] can be helpful to you in planning your fam’s adventure! We would return to both places in a heartbeat, and I’ll treasure the memories made there for the rest of my life. Truly…the magic is real!
❤️ERIN


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  1. How amazing! I’ve been waiting for this post. I want to take a Disney cruise when our kiddos are 9 and 10, so we’ve got some time. Thank you.

  2. Melissa says:

    I’m so glad you had a great time! Our family has been on two Disney cruises, eleven years apart, and both times were so amazing! We are fans for sure!

  3. Ashlee says:

    Loved reading your experience on both. We are actually expecting twins in September!! We have plenty of time to plan but this was very helpful just as I think about the future. Thank you!!

  4. Abbey says:

    Love hearing about how you are differentiating between the two. Our fam (kids ranging from 10-14) has a cruise scheduled for July (on the Dream too!), but we’re doing The World of Harry Potter instead of DW. This post makes me more excited!

  5. It looks like your family had such a great time! We are planning on going on a Disney cruise in November, although with the coronavirus I am a little nervous. My kiddos are younger but we are not fond of crowds so we opted for this instead, AND November is an off-season time.

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