Friday, August 28, 2009

Getting The Most Out Of Your WDW Vacation Time

The average WDW vacationing family does not have a full two weeks to take their time inside and outside of the WDW theme parks. Most families don't even have 6 or 7 days days! Often times people visit WDW just because they are passing through the area or are there to visit other popular Orlando attractions and they want to get a taste of what WDW has to offer.

No matter how long you are at 'the land of the mouse' for you definitely want to get the most out of your time there. You want to see as much and do as much as you possibly can. That is why the absolute best way (in my opinion) to tour WDW is to become an "early riser."

Arriving early at the parks is crucial to getting your big "headlining" attractions out of the way with little to no wait at all. The Official Guide (the bible) suggests that you can experience four rides in one hour in the early morning that would take you three hours to accomplish after 10:30 a.m. That's a lot of time you just saved by getting your tush up a little bit earlier. So many people leave WDW and think, "Wow! I missed out on this and this and this! We never got around to all of that!"

In my personal experience I know that i've went to AK and knocked out KS and EE (3 times in the single rider line) all before 10:00 a.m. because my mom and I were there about 30 minutes before park opening. At Epcot it's much easier to waste your time away just because there is so much walking and if you aren't familar with where everything is it's easy to get misplaced. The Studios and Magic Kingdom are the hardest to choose where to go to first thing after park opening. I'm not sure what the Unofficial Guide is suggesting for 2010 but I would say go for Toy Story Mania at DHS and Space Mountain at MK. A lot of people grab a FASTPASS before riding anything and I just don't bother doing that until i've gotten my first ride outta the way. It's not quite as fun knowing you're running towards a FASTPASS kiosk and not an amazing attraction. haha! ;)

I'm sure you're thinking, "Okay, Nazi Stacey! What time do YOU get to the parks?" Well, if i'm going by standard opening time which is normally 9:00 a.m.... I try to get one of the first WDW Transport busses. If i'm ahead of my game I end up waiting on the first bus at the bus stop and enjoy my muffin that I grabbed from the food court using a snack credit from the DDP. :) Magic Kingdom always takes longer to get to from Pop so I have to make sure i'm on one of the first busses for that park but i'm much more lax when it comes to DHS or EP since it's always a fast drive there. Let me just break down my tips... park by park.

Magic Kingdom - Get to the turnstiles (yes, turnstiles) at least 30 minutes before park opening. You'll be brought up to the main entrance to MK. There are TWO ways to get inside of the park. One tunnel is on the left and the other is... on the right. ;) The one you want to head towards is the one with less people and less STROLLERS! Not kidding folks! Strollers will slow you down when it's time to move. This goes for any park... not just MK. After the little opening show shin-dig the ropes are dropped and you are allowed to move into MK. Don't be distracted by the good smells of the bakery if you have your heart set on a certain attraction. Move quickly down Main Street and you'll probably be stopped at the entrance to the land you're approaching. Once 9:00 a.m. hits you'll be walked to the main attraction of that particular land. Keep moving and dodging people. Sometimes staying on the sides and not in the center of the crowd will allow you to be ahead of the pack when the CMs move out of your way.

Epcot - This is the easiest park to lose your place in. Even if you get there 45 minutes or more before park opening and you're right at the rope... you could lose your bearings very quickly if you don't move fast. It's pretty crucial to get to Epcot early since the addition of Soarin'. The line for Soarin' can quickly build and make it impossible to knock out the top attractions very quickly in the morning. When the first rope is dropped and you are allowed past Spaceship Earth... stay on the right! Move quickly up to the center hub and take a right to the little side hub. Ignore the big crowd that will go to the center hub itself. They are dumb and don't know better or are headed for Test Track. Once the rope is dropped at your side "hub" follow the CMs into The Land pavilion and head for the stairs on the back right section of the pavilion. Don't bother with the escalators... use the stairs and head to Soarin' which will be past the waving and cheering CMs on your right. You're good to go!

Disney's Hollywood Studios - With the recent addition of Toy Story Mania it's no longer an obvious move to head towards Tower of Terror and Rockin' Roller Coaster. Your best bet is to head over to Toy Story Mania now and either ride right away or obtain a FASTPASS. I try and get to DHS about 30 minutes before park opening... if not earlier. The entertainment crew does an awesome park opening show that I like to watch (and sometimes star in) as well. Use Extra Magic Hour mornings here if you can. It's really worth it at DHS because the headliners can get backed up during busy months. Learn the lay of the land before you arrive at DHS because it's the most confusing park to get around in.

Animal Kingdom - This is fairly easy for me to tell you what to do. Even if you are somewhat late getting to the park (20 minutes or less before park opening) you can still weasel your way closer. The key here is to look for the turnstile line with the LEAST amount of people... usually those on the sides. Try to find a line with more adults and less children. Kids have issues with the finger scanning machine so that takes up time for you if you're behind the rugrats. Once through the turnstile don't get distracted by the park map stand... blow through the left or right pathway (whichever is closest to you) and get to the next rope right in front of the tree of life. Position yourself either at the far right or the far left depending on if you are going to KS or EE first. If going to EE first, when the rope is dropped follow the CMs but stay on your RIGHT. There will be little shops with awnings to the right of you... use that space under the awnings to move ahead of people in front of you. No one will even think to occupy that space since it's not actual "road." If you're going to head to the Safari first thing... stay behind the CM and choose either the left or the right side... try to avoid the middle. You accomplish moving past people if you are on the sides. Don't worry! It's not cutting since you're not even in a line! :)

Okay, wow! I've typed a lot! I'm done for now! Feel free to comment and let me know what your tactics are for each park and if you get to the parks early or if you're a late riser.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bueller? Bueller?

Clearly, i've been absent.

The thing with planning a WDW trip so far ahead is that once your ADRs are taken care of all you can really do is wait until the trip gets closer. I have one month until my next WDW vacation and i'm mentally trying to get myself super excited. Lots of personal junk has been bogging me down lately and it's hard to think about something so wonderful and fun when you've got "reality" surrounding you and beating you down day after day.

Let me get the bad news over with... the trip has changed to just mom and I. Matt has chosen to go out to see his aunt in California with his mom. That means it will be another team trip for mom and I! Really.. nothing wrong with that. Just kind of a mental bummer.... ya know? Sadly, I have to take care of trying to transfer his Northwest ticket from going to Orlando to going to San Fran or L.A. Ugh. I'm not looking forward to paying the extra fees for that mess.

On a high note... the trip is totally paid off! About two weeks ago I paid the final $250.00 ish and now i'm totally done! Wooo! I'm really still thinking of doing the AP like I wanted to but there are personal reasons as to why i'm not sure it'd be such a good idea. Hmm.. not sure yet. I have more time to think about it. Really... I don't have to decide until the trip is upon us. It'll be about $220.00 just to upgrade my 1 day base to a 7 day park hopper. And the AP will cost me about $520.00. Kind of a big difference but if I KNOW that I will get to use that AP fully then it will be worth it.

It's also time for me to start getting my WDW binder together. The binder I carry religiously until we step foot into our hotel room. I still have to get all of the info typed out and printed so I can neatly store it. Once that is done it's really just a matter of time. Did you know that I left my binder on the plane during my honeymoon and almost totally left the gate without it?

Anyways... i'm hoping someone is still interested in reading this! I'll keep updating when I feel necessary.