If you gave my husband the option: Disney World or, well, any other vacation, he’d choose Disney World every single time.
In fact, the man tears up each time we leave.
That’s how, yes, MAGICAL, it is for us. My small people are still small, 6 and 8, but we have been going since they were 5 and 3. And we’ve been drawn back every year. It helps that I used to go often as a little girl. A lot has changed since then – but the atmosphere, the feeling you get walking down Main Street – well that is the same.
This place is special, in part because we make it so. We have our own set of rules that allow us to maximize our fun and minimize the time we spend jockeying with the crowds and waiting in lines.
Go Early – We certainly aren’t the only ones who do this, but being among the first people into the park allows us to hit some of our favorite rides before the influx of crowds strolls in. We will also be able to grab some Fast Passes early (see Tip #4 below) and navigate to certain areas of the park before the masses (and the much older kids) make it in. This also means you can leave for a while and come back if anyone in your group needs a rest. (because you already have so much fun under your belt)
Go left – This may sound funny, but I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. I lived near Orlando for a few years when I was little, but mainly grew up in Los Angeles, so I have years of both Disney World and Disney Land experience to my credit. When you walk into Magic Kingdom, go down Main Street and then head to the LEFT. Why? Most people head to the right. (that’s where you will find Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear) To the left, you will quickly hit Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain and then circling towards the back, you will encounter Thunder Mountain, the Haunted Mansion and then you’ll be in Fantasy Land for It’s A Small World, Peter Pan, etc. When we were there a few months ago, we waited less than 5 minutes for the first few rides I mentioned.
Plan Ahead – Taking some time before you enter the Park to determine what you MUST see and do will be beneficial. Does your Princess have to find Cinderella? Is Dumbo a ‘must-do’? Are you working around certain meal or nap times? Once you know what your agenda holds, use Verizon’s Disney Mobile Magic App to find out where the characters are located throughout the park and how long you have to wait for certain rides.
Use the Fast Passes – When I used to go to the Magic Kingdom as a little girl, we had actual tickets for each ride – yes, ‘E tickets’ were the best. That’s what you needed to get on Space Mountain. Now, you can take advantage of the Fast Pass – a printed ticked that will give you a one hour window during which to come back to stand in line. At this time, you ‘fast pass’ all of the people choosing to stand in the regular line. So, you can grab a Fast Pass for Splash Mountain and then head back to Aladdin and Pirates of the Caribbean while you wait for your designated time. Use can use that same amazing Verizon’s Disney Mobile Magic App to track Fast Pass wait times as well.
Eat during ‘off peak’ hours – Unless you have a specific reservation, you will save time if you choose to eat at times other than ‘lunch’ or ‘dinner’. Eating between 11:30-1:00 will naturally be the busiest time, so the lines for food will be the longest. Have a late lunch or an early dinner to maximize the time you can spend on the ‘fun stuff’.
Embrace the Motto: Eyes Up, Jaw Down – You see the picture of my small people there? That’s just what ‘Eyes up, Jaw Down’ looks like. I had the pleasure of speaking with one of Disney’s Imagineers a few months ago. He told me this is their goal – that look, that sense of joy and awe. Allow yourself to be swept up in it – to dance down Main Street, to skip with your kids, to be amazed by the parades, the rides, the everything. The more fun YOU are having, the more fun your FAMILY will have as well.
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