I have had season passes to Walt Disney World for many, many years. I have friends ask me for tips and hints all the time, so today I am going to share with you some of my ideas!
On Saturday (yes, over the long-holiday weekend!) we spent 14 STRAIGHT hours at the Magic Kingdom. The great news is that we never waited over 10-minutes for a ride!! I want to share some of my best suggestions so you can also have a great time in the theme park.
(Please note, since the fast-pass program is changing this month with the introduction of the new Magic Bands I won't even discuss the fast-pass option at this time!)
1. Two MUST-HAVE apps before you visit Disney. First, I love an app called "Undercover Tourist" which gives the "crowd forecast" on when to visit the parks. It will give you a green light, yellow light, or red light based on anticipated attendance. USE THIS when selecting your day! Plan your trip around the forecast!!!Second, the official Disney app is called "Mobile Magic". You will want this once in the park so you can have the latest information on the wait times at the attractions.
2. Get there early. Plan for traffic and other last minute hiccups. Also remember, it takes time to get to the front of the theme park. You must take the monorail (or boat) over to the park from the parking lot, so plan an additional 30-minutes!! Sometimes the monorail line is long, and I have even seen the monorail closed in the past. Make time for these possible problems!
3. Check out the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show, 15-minutes to park opening. It's a cute little welcome show, lasting only 10-minutes, and it will get you in the Disney spirit!
4. When the park opens, get to the rides!!! Do not stop at City Hall, do not stop for pictures in front of the castle, and do not stop for a stroller. You can do this later! If you have younger kids, you want to head to Fantasyland. Hit Peter Pan first, Winnie the Pooh second, and then Little Mermaid. These rides have the longest wait times later in the day so get to them FIRST. (This past weekend, we hit FOUR RIDES in one hour with NO WAIT!!) If you have older kids, you probably want to hit Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Just make sure you hit your favorite rides first!
5. Have a late-breakfast. About an hour after opening, the park is getting many more guests. This is when I like to have breakfast, around 10:00 or 10:15 am. (Either Crystal Palace or in Cinderella's Castle--remember to make ADVANCE reservations). You will be able to sit in the AC, relax for an hour, and take pictures with characters. I consider this meal an early-lunch!! (Many of the restaurants, even quick service, get pretty busy from 11am to 2pm--but you won't have to stop to eat during this time since you had a nice big breakfast!!)
6. While someone in your party is waiting to pay the bill for breakfast, send another person back to the front of the park, if you need a stroller or need to visit City Hall (Guest Relations). Meet back up in front of the castle if you want a group picture.
7. Back to the rides!! Hit your second-tier rides after breakfast. We all have our favorites, so you can decide on your own which rides you like!
8. If you need a rest, hit the 3pm parade. Send one person in your party to hold your seats on the curb about an hour before (say 2pm) while the rest of your group continues to visit the attractions! Have everyone meet back up minutes before the start of the parade! (I will be honest, this parade is short and not my favorite. Feel free to skip it, if you have other things to do! But if you have never seen it, and want to try it, make sure you sit in the shade!!) I also suggest you catch the BEGINNING of the parade in Frontierland -- whereas most people try to watch it from Main Street.) Also, I try to remember to pack a beach towel when I visit the theme parks. Not only does it help to dry off the kids who get wet in Casey Jr. splash area, but it also helps to lay on the curb to "hold your spot" for the parade! And let me also mention the concrete gets HOT so the towel is great to sit on!
9. Now it's time for an early dinner. Again, beat the crowds, by eating at 4pm (after the parade)! There are many dining choices for dinner, including quick-service and sit-down service. This is the hottest time of the day so sit for an hour in the AC, and rest your feet!! While wrapping up dinner, map out the rest of your evening. What rides are left on your list?
10. Go for indoor attractions/rides around 5pm! Not only is this the HOTTEST part of the day, but it's also the time of day when rains hit Central Florida. I suggest you hit INDOOR attractions at this time. I suggest Philharmagic, Hall of Presidents, Monsters Comedy Floor, and Stitch!
11. Line up early for the Night-time Festivities! When the sun goes down, things light up (literally!) at Magic Kingdom. It's time for the Main Street Electrical parade, the laser-light show on the castle and the fireworks. I strongly recommend someone from your party start looking for seats about 75 to 90- minutes prior to the Electrical parade. (Remember that towel I mentioned earlier? Use it again now!) I suggest you watch near the front of castle or on main street. (This past weekend, we made the mistake of watching the parade in Liberty Square. As we tried to move up to the front of the park to see fireworks, it was impossible to go anywhere--big traffic jam!!)
12. Leave DURING fireworks, not when they are over...OR be prepared to sit still for a bit and let the crowd leave! It is a mad dash for the monorail, boats, and resort buses after the firework show. I suggest you start walking out WHILE the show is still in progress. (And instead of walking on the street to exit. walk through the shops along Main Street which are connected on the right, from Hall of Champions to the Empirium.) But if your family REALLY wants to see the entire show, bring your patience!!! Or if your children still have a little energy, you may try for another ride or two while everyone exits the park.
13. Do not run from one side of the park to another during the day. We have gone with friends in the past to Magic Kingdom, who run from one side of the park to another to hit shorter "wait times". This is a huge waste of energy. Conserve your energy. Stay within an area, and visit that "world" at one time.
14. Bring a few snacks and drinks of your own. I always bring a back pack with a couple of water bottles (maybe freeze in advance if you want them cold!), a few snacks (crackers, pretzels, etc), sunscreen, a towel (mentioned above), extra batteries for my camera, etc. It helps save a few dollars, but if money is not an issue, Disney offers great snacks!
15. Disney has great Wi-Fi coverage, but still put your phone in airplane mode when not needed. Save your battery! If you are constantly "checking in" and uploading pictures, your phone's battery will drain fast! You may need your phone at some point if you get separated from your group!