First article in this series: Walt Disneyworld on a Budget:
PART II: TIPS
Many ask which park(s) to visit if limited on time/days. Obviously, if you’re taking young children, they will definitely have their own ideas. 🙂 Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will probably get high votes. 🙂 However, as you’re planning, don’t be too quick to overlook Epcot – even for the young ones. Disney does ALL the parks ‘right’ and your kids WILL enjoy it!! Epcot is by far our favorite park. With a multi-day pass, we spend 2 days there and 1 day in each of the remaining parks. Recently we made a trip there for reasons OTHER than Disney. We only had 1 day and didn’t even have to discuss it. We went to Epcot!!!
- Disney”s Park Hopper pass allows visitors to ‘hop’ to different parks in a day, but we never chose that option. Each park has MUCH more than you can possibly do in a day….and transporting between parks takes time that could be spent enjoying the park you’re in —and the ‘clincher’ is that they charge you for the privilege of having less time in the park…. 🙂 Every park has something special…a parade in the afternoon or light parade or fireworks at night. You really don’t want to miss that. 🙂
- Fast Passes have changed… 😦 and that’s disappointing… Prior to 2009, anyone could swipe their ticket at the busier attractions to get an assigned time to return and by-pass the line. It seems to be a “change in progress” now, so consult the Disney website for current information….
- When you arrive in the park, immediately sit down and plan your day (performances, character meetings, et al) with the schedule brochure in hand. There are special things happening all day long, but to not miss anything will require a “plan”. Plan any “must do’s” early in the day so if something interrupts or distracts you away from your original plan, you can still get to them later…and you don’t end up with regrets at the end of the day.
- When you enter the park, GO LEFT! Most people are right-handed and instinctively go right. Go where others are not going and the crowds will be lighter. 🙂 Another option is to immediately head to the BACK of the park and work your way to the front. An added advantage to this is that when the day is over and you’re tired, you’re AT the entrance — rather than at the back of the park and struggling to get a tired (and possibly grumpy) family to the front entrance. Either of these options will help you to avoid a portion of the heavy crowds early in the day.
- Parades, Fireworks and Performances in the Park: People start reserving spots for the parades/shows quite early. If you secure your ‘spot’ early, you can use the wait time to browse the shops. In our family, Dad usually stayed and held our spot while the kids and I looked through the shops, then we would trade places if we needed/wanted to. We did the same for restroom runs….good use of time.
- The best place to SEE all the characters is at the parades, but if you’re wanting photo opportunities, that’s NOT where you will get them – crowds and THOUSANDS wanting the same thing. Check the park map/schedule for times and places where these characters will be. Often you will get a few minutes to greet, talk, snap a photo – all without very long lines. Yes, the character meals will guarantee you’ll see characters, but those are very pricey. Don’t think that’s the only way to see them and have a photo. They’re all over the park!! Just read the schedule, plan your day and always be on the lookout for impromptu sightings.
Strollers: If renting a stroller, bring something to tie to yours to identify it… The strollers are identical, especially after you remove your personal belongings to go onto the ride. Bring a ribbon, sash, or balloon to identify YOUR stroller, but bring something patterned or ‘unusual’. Red is extremely popular. 🙂
- The “Magical Beginnings” map gives locations of all the Baby care centers. These are great, not only as a place to change a diaper or nurse a baby, but also just a place to cool off and rest/relax with young ones (ages 0-2)
- Arrive Early: Not only does arriving early put you at the front of the line at the entrance, but sometimes, during the busy season, they open the park earlier than scheduled. Kids are at their ‘best’ early in the day so the more you see ‘early in the day’ the better off (happier) you’ll be. Note: Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom opens before the park officially opens. By arriving early, you can spend some time there and be ready to explore the park at the opening bell. 🙂
- If you’re vacationing during the hottest times of the year (July/Aug) bring a bandana for everyone. Wet them at the water fountains (The water is COLD) and use those around your neck to keep cool. Cooling down the neck lowers body temperature and makes you ‘feel’ cooler.