Lots of families have big dreams of visiting Walt Disney World on vacation. They arrive unprepared and end up not getting as much done as they had hoped, because of poor planning.
No fear! Robby K, our Modern Man of Mickey Mouse Mania, is here to help!
Walt Disney World is magical but it’s also crowded! No one wants to spend a small fortune and a weeks vacation waiting in line. If you follow the Disney Dad’s Dozen Time Saving Tips you will spend more time relaxing and less time in line.
1. Buy The Bible!
I went on and on about The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World in my very first installment of this series. Enough already! Click below and buy the darn book. You will save hours and hours in line. If you are hardcore like me, you will download the app, pay the small subscription fee and save even more time. Do it!
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2. The Early Bird Gets the Worm
The optimum time for touring a less crowded park is early in the morning. Arrive at any of the four parks 30 minutes before opening to be there for “rope drop”. In combination with some timely fast passes you should be able to take a big bite out of a parks headliner attractions. Plus Disney has special opening ceremonies at each of the parks which are really great. And…. it’s much cooler in the morning!
3. Avoid the Early/ Late Magic Hours Park
Do you want to know which park will be the busiest during your visit? It will be the park with the Extra Magic Hours. Extra Magic Hours are for one designated park to either be open early or stay open late for Walt Disney Resort guests. It is designed as a perk for the folks staying on Disney property. We avoid that designated park at all costs if we can help it. You will see a 20% bump in lines and crowds for Extra Magic Hours.
4. How to ride Avatar Flight of Passage without a Fastpass and without waiting in (too long of a) line.
Flights of Passage is AMAZING! Disney has once again raised the bar for their attractions. This is a not to be missed attraction at the Animal Kingdom. It is also almost impossible to get a Fastpass for and the standby lines often exceed two hours. What to do?
Once again you need to get up a good two hours before park opening. Get your family some food at the hotel and try and take the first bus available to the Animal Kingdom. Disney says buses start running 45 mins before the park opening but they are always earlier than that. Be out at the bus stop at least one hour before. When you arrive at Animal Kingdom head left at the turnstiles to get into the park.
For some reason the lines on the right are almost always more crowded. If you are an annual pass holder look for that line – it’s always fastest. Disney also almost always opens their parks earlier than posted. I have often been admitted to a park 15-20 minutes before opening.
Once you are through again stay left. When you come over the bridge the Tree Of Life will be in front of you (take selfies there later) and again turn left. Once you head towards the bridge into Pandora the lines will split. You want to get right. The queue for Flight of Passage will be on the right side. I have personally done this three times and the longest wait was 30 mins and the shortest was 15 mins. It won’t feel very long as the queue is very detailed and entertaining and it is air conditioned!
5. Try and not to eat during peak times
Humans are creatures of habit. They eat at 8am, 12pm and 5pm. If you slightly alter your dining schedule you can spend way less time in line. Disney is also now offering a mobile order service through their My Disney Experience App. You can pre-order your food, pay for it and go directly to a pick up window for your food. Quick Service Restaurants include:
Magic Kingdom Park:
Columbia Harbour House, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe, Pinocchio Village Haus, Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant
Electric Umbrella, Liberty Inn
Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
ABC Commissary, Backlot Express, PizzeRizzo
Disney’s Animal Kingdom:
Flame Tree Barbecue, Pizzafari, Restaurantosaurus, Satu’li Canteen
6. Single Rider Line
If you don’t mind breaking up your travel party, the single rider is a great time saver. Often the line can be shorter than the Fastpass line. We have found that many times we end up riding together anyway.
There is a separate queue for single rider on the following attractions:
Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, Test Track at Epcot, Rock N Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror at Disney Hollywood Studios
7. Fantasmic Dining Package
The Hollywood Studios offers a dining package that will include a reserved seating area for Fantasmic. Instead of arriving one hour early and sitting and waiting you can enjoy an attraction or see a show. Simply make a reservation online or through the MDE app.
There are two restaurant choices: The Brown Derby or Mama Melrose’s. We love Mama Melrose’s and it’s far cheaper than The Brown Derby. If you are planning a sit down meal why not get good seats to a show while you are at it. It will cost you though! You can do dinner or lunch and the price includes: Appetizer, Entree, Dessert, Non-alcoholic beverage, VIP seating voucher.
The price for the package at Brown Derby is $62.99 for adults, $21.99 for children. The price for the package at Mama Melrose’s is $44.99 for adults, $17.99 for children.
[KP’s note: we did this on our vacation – we were able to use our dining plan passes at Mama Melrose and still get the Fantasmic seats!]
8. Eat an early breakfast at the Magic Kingdom
If you have a breakfast reservation at the Magic Kingdom you can enter the park before everyone else. Ever dream of walking down Main Street with no one around? Well this is how you make that happen. Make a very early dining reservation at The Crystal Palace or Cinderella’s Castle.
Enjoy a huge meal while meeting with a bunch of Disney classic characters. Afterward breakfast you are already in the park early and can enjoy many shows and attractions without the mid day crowds.
9. Be flexible when it comes to transportation
Disney transportation can be a blessing or a nightmare. Trying to figure out what works best depends on you and your family. I prefer to not drive and hang out with my kids but the trade off is long bus lines. Especially at park closing. But if you are flexible you can avoid long waits.
The monorail is an iconic part of the Disney experience at the Magic Kingdom but I find the boats often take you there faster at peak times. We will also often take the “resort” monorail instead of the park only monorail. The resort monorail will take you to the Polynesian and Grand Floridian first and then the Magic Kingdom. During peak times this is always a shorter wait.
We have an annual pass so driving is a viable option because parking is included. If you are paying for parking it’s $20 per day. Sometimes at the end of a busy night taking a cab or an Uber home is a huge time saver. Its will cost a few bucks but instead of an hour to get home on the bus you are at the hotel in 5 minutes.
10. Rent the Disney Stroller
A Disney Stroller is $15 per day for a single and $31 for a double. I know that is not cheap but it is worth every penny at the end of the day when you don’t have to fold and unfold, fold and unfold, fold and unfold the stupid stroller from home.
Being able to ditch it when you want and have it when you need it , is a lifesaver. The disney stroller is indestructible, low to the ground and turns on a dime. It is a place to leave your stuff when you go into an attraction. It is like having a portable locker. If you lose your stroller or park hop, bring the receipt and get a new one anytime. We will also buy all of our rental days at the same time. This way, you go directly to the pick up lane, hop in a stroller and off you go. We always bring a .99 cent bandana and tie it to our stroller so we knew which one is ours.
11. Make sure your Fastpass game is strong
Again this is fully explained in my very first blog. You can make reservations 60 days out, if you have your tickets and 90 days out, if you are staying on Disney property.
Get a list from the kids of what they can’t miss and get those as soon as possible. Be careful! Disney uses the Fastpass system to manipulate crowds. They will offer Fastpasses for attractions like “Journey Into Your Imagination” and “The Seas with Nemo”. Those queues usually never exceed 10-20 minutes. Don’t waste a Fastpass on those! You only get three a day. Use them wisely.
12. Stay on Disney Property
Staying at a Disney hotel keeps you in the magic 24-7 and it is closer to all the parks. Staying on property will get you in and around the resort much quicker than staying in Kissimmee. Plus you can use the Disney transportation to get around and utilize the extra magic hours at the parks. You will save time by not having to park your car. From most resorts you can see one of the many fireworks displays and enjoy all the resort activities they have to offer.
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