It’s safe to say I’m a huge Disney fan, but I’m not a fanatic. Mickey Mouse ears don’t adorn every item in my home, I don’t have every Disney movie ever made, and none of my kids are named Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, or Goofy-although each of them has embraced many of Goofy’s characteristics from time to time. I’ve been to Disneyland and Disney World more times than I can count and with each visit the magic of the “Happiest Place on Earth” ignites my inner child and I become giddy.
I never grow tired of circling over London on a pirate ship with a little help from pixie dust. Each member of my family will rise to the challenge to attain the best score while blasting the evil Emperor Zorg and save the little green aliens as a space commander. And it’s likely you’ll see me get teary eyed when Mickey battles villains and defeats them even if it’s only in my imagination.
My family and the family of my best friend decided we would celebrate our friendship and growing families (hers-not mine, that ship has sailed!) with a trip to Disney World. As our excitement began to grow my Type-A personality began to cloud my planning as Disney has changed in the last five years since we’ve been there and left me feeling overwhelmed as I tried to plan our days. Going to Disney as much as I do I have learned the tricks of the trade, so to speak. I’m not unique in my Disney knowledge. There are hundreds if not thousands of other Disney fans posting blogs, crowd calendars, tips, hints, and advice on how to make the most of your Disney vacation. My insight is not special and probably not all that insightful but prior to this vacation I believed I had a pretty good handle on how to maneuver the complexity of a Disney vacation. The biggest challenge I faced this time around…Fast Pass+ (cue scary music= duh, duh, duh).
If you think you’re going to vacation at the Happiest Place on Earth, then book as soon as you can (60+ days if possible). The new Fast Pass+ selection begins as soon as you purchase your tickets and if you want a chance to experience the most popular rides without line waiting burnout then booking sooner is better. If you book your vacation directly through Disney you can purchase your tickets with your vacation package allowing you to make instant reservations for dining and Fast Pass Reservations. If you want your dear, darling daughter to see Anna and Elsa the only chance you’ve got is booking early. Fast Pass+ tickets to see Anna and Elsa were booked more than 30 days out. This means you will get up early, wait in thick crowds of dressed up princesses under four feet who are tired, crabby and screaming to see the princesses their parents promised them. The wait time for that lovely experience has grown to 300 minutes-that’s five hours people!!!
The newest ride, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, opened up the week before we arrived. Thinking about getting a Fast Pass+ ticket for that (see above paragraph)? The only way you can get on this ride without early booking for Fast Pass+ ticket is waiting in line. If you can arrive at the Magic Kingdom early, I’m talking an hour and half early, then you will be escorted by the employees and their magic rope in an orderly fashion (no running, trampling, shoving-this they remind you of, seriously) to Fantasyland where the rope is dropped the employees run for their lives and the chaos begins. Tourists break off into Anna and Elsa line or Mine Train line. It’s such a spectacle the Disney employees use their phones to take pictures and videos of the mayhem. Once you find your place in line, way towards the back because you follow rules and didn’t run, trample, or push your way rudely to the front, chances are you will be on the ride in less than an hour, if you’re lucky. If you’re unlucky then the ride will be inexplicably shut down just seconds before you cross the yellow line to get on and told to enjoy the other attractions. Not sure what the problems were but the Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train was shut down three different times for several hours on the day we were there. Fortunately for Disney they handed out Fast Pass coupons to everyone standing in line to return once the ride re-opened. We made it on the ride at 9:00 that night.
When asked about the Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train my first response is, “I wouldn’t wait longer than 30 minutes for that ride.” The ride is cute. The coaster is very quiet so it felt very odd to scream like a little kid when no one else was. With a height requirement of 38” I think the Barnstormer is more thrilling than this ride.
Summer months the crowds are heavy and the temperatures are hot and humid. My suggestion is to go during the fall months, especially when Disney offers free dining with their resort packages. But the biggest secret to Disney’s magic is to enjoy the “Happiest Place on Earth” with friends and family. Spending a week with our closest friends and seeing Disney through the eyes of their precious little girl made this vacation one of the best we’ve ever had.
What are your best tips for a magical experience at Disney?