Those that know me know that I’m a bit of a Disney nut, but never was this made more clear than on our recent trip to Disney World this April. And while I thought I knew quite a bit about how to maximize the Disney World experience, I also learned a few things.
So, here are some Disney World tips I picked up to help you get the most of out of your visit to Disney World in 2014:
- Master Fastpass+ – If you’ve done any research on Disney lately, you’re certainly familiar with the Fastpass+ technology. And while the technology continues to evolve (which will render much of what’s written here outdated soon enough), understanding which rides have the longest wait times and when, will allow you to get the most out of your visit. Rides like Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain are generally the longest waits from about 10 am to 7 pm, so if you want to hit those rides, you should fastpass those during the busy times. Other popular rides like Peter Pan, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean offer wait times of less than 15 minutes early and late in the day, so hit them then, and save your fast passes for the big rides. Another of my favorite Disney World tips is to keep track of the various parade times because they are popular, and even sought after rides like Splash Mountain will see wait times drop significantly during those times.
- Plan your days efficiently – One thing that stuck out to me on our most recent trip is that being at the park between 1 pm and 5 pm is not very efficient. It’s obviously the most popular time of the day, so all of the ride times are inflated, but it’s also generally pretty hot, so you end up spending more time waiting in line and more money on water/snacks/etc… What we found was taking advantage of Disney’s transportation system, we could head back to the hotel and swim (or just relax), then head back to the parks at night when the lines were shorter (and the weather was more pleasant). For those with little ones like us, it served as a great way to keep them fresh.
- Take time to experience the “other” attractions – Of course the big rides are a primary reason to visit WDW, but this is maybe the favorite of my recent Disney World tips in that we really tried to focus on some of the other experiences during this visit. Take time to stroll through the World Showcase and Innoventions at Epcot, or take in some of the stunt shows at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – you never know how much you’re going to enjoy them until you try em. In fact, three of our kids favorite rides from this visit were the Carousel of Progress, Spaceship Earth, and the Hall of Presidents – who
- Meet the characters – Being the father of two young girls, meeting the characters (especially the Princesses) is a must, but there various ways to do this. If you can afford it, the best way is to do one of the many character meals that allows you to meet several characters at one time (all while getting a decent meal!). Though it’s a bit pricey, it does allow you to save a lot of time (which is really your most valuable commodity on vacation) versus waiting to meet each one individually, and really has an impact on the overall experience. Disney has done a great job of minimizing character wait times by allowing you to use Fastpass+ to see the more popular characters too, so even if you don't dine with them, don’t miss out on seeing Mickey, Cinderella and all the rest during your next visit.
- The fireworks are great, but what comes first is better – Disney World’s fireworks are among the best in the world, but for me, the Celebrate the Magic show that precedes them is even better. Leveraging some pretty sophisticated projection technologies, imagineers turn Cinderella’s Castle into the movie screen and project popular movie scenes onto it. Combined with the songs your kids know and love, it’s a great way to prepare for the fireworks and has something for everyone. You can see fireworks anywhere, but this is something uniquely Disney.
So hopefully these Disney World tips help you get more out of your vacation and I’m working on upcoming posts about how to make your visit even more magical, whether it makes sense to say on or off property, and more.
If you have a Disney question, I’m happy to help. Feel free to shoot me your question on Twitter (I’m @jonmkee) or via email (jonmkee at gmail dot com). Have a magical day!