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.


  1. Since you get to the parks so early, do you stay until the parks close or do you head back to your hotel early?

  2. Good question! We don't stay at the park all day. We normally go back to the hotel mid-day. Then we'll go back out and do dinner somewhere and then head out to a park for a night show. Sometimes we do come back to the hotel after dinner and just swim for the night. I like swimming at night at Pop a lot. We really do full days. Maybe only one or two nights of the vaca do we use the extra magic hour evenings option. We rarely get back to the room any later than like 9 or 10. We like to get our sleep and get up early.

  3. It sounds like you don't spend much time in the parks mid-day or at night. Night time in the parks in my favorite.

  4. Another you typically only ride most attractions once?

  5. WOW! I totally haven't checked this sucker in like... a month.. eek! haha.

    It depends on the schedule and how beat we are if we are in the parks mid-day. Mid-day is typically the busiest park time so we'll try and hit attractions that swallow up crowds at that point... maybe catch a parade and a snack... or go back to the hotel for a bit to freshen up. I love being the parks at night but with my mom she obviously doesn't want to stay out super duper late since we are "early risers." When Matt and I go we're normally at a park each night until park closing. It really depends on the trip and what we're out to accomplish.

    We don't ride most attractions once. We all have our favorites (whomever I travel with) and normally we'll do the "favorites" at least twice if time allows. I'm a big Carousel of Progress fan but no one can handle that one more than once other than me. On a trip many years ago I went on Splash Mountain 6 times in a trip. Yeahh....haha. :) I also don't try and hit EVERYTHING because i'm just not interested in everything. Like, why would I put myself through Stitch's Great Escape when I know that I don't enjoy it?! Ya know?

  6. We never did that stitch thing. I don't even know what it is...haha.

    We go on our favorites over and over. I went to AK twice on our last trip and each time we went on EE three times. (In the front row each time.) Love that ride so much!

    At Disneyland we go on a lot of rides over and over. I know a lot of people don't like doing that but we love it. We once rode Space Mountain 7 times in a row when there was no line. Haha. And another time we rode Big Thunder three times in a row without even having to get off.

  7. You rode BTMR without having to get off?! WOW i'm SO jealous! haha. That line is such a long pain in the butt even if no one is waiting in line. It can get HOT over there.

    I'm all about trying to do my favorites more than once. Mom loves It's A Small World so we normally do that at least twice. I like to do Spaceship Earth 3 times.. at least. If it's a nice day I'll let myself get soaked on Splash Mountain a bunch of times. Last time my mom and I saw Finding Nemo: The Musical twice along with Beauty and the Beast. We're show junkies.. what can we say.

    Oh, you're not missing out on anything by not doing Stitch. Unless you have a strong desire to sit in uncomfortable seats and get chili dog burped on you... stay away.