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Embarking The Disney Dream for Sailing #8

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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Time=Money on a Walt Disney World Vacation--Hints and Tips For Getting The Most Out of Your Vacation



Any vacationer to Walt Disney World wants to get the most out of their vacation dollar.  There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like you are wasting money or opportunities.  At Walt Disney World, it is all about time.  The more time spent doing something other than enjoying your vacation is wasted time and that equates to wasted money.

Here are some hints and tips that we used to get the most out of our most recent Walt Disney World vacation and many previous trips:

  • Get to the parks early.  Before they open.  So, you are there when the park opens and get the most out of the less crowded morning.  Yes, you are on vacation and most likely want to sleep in.  Yet, thousands of others are thinking/feeling the same thing.  If you do the opposite of those thousands of people, you will be far ahead in the time/money ratio.  Or, do the opposite.  Sleep in and go the parks later in the day—say late afternoon, and take advantage of extended hours or if you are staying on property, Extra Magic Hours.  The fewer people in the park, the more opportunities you have to make the most of your time.  If you are on the bus to a park at 8:00 am and the park opened at 8:00 am , you are already late!
  • Say yes.  Yep, anytime a Cast Member asks you something, say yes.  You never know what is coming next.  Don’t hesitate, don’t think about it.  Trust in pixie dust and magic and say yes.


  • Leave your refillable mugs in your resort room.  I am still shaking my head in disbelief at te number of times we saw people schlepping their refillable mugs at the parks.  Folks need to know that those can only be refilled at their resort.  No where else.  Remember that you can always get a free cup of water at any counter service location.  Say it with me now. . . leave the refillable mugs in your resort room.
  • Since you are the park early, grab a park map AND Times Guide.  Most people just grab the map and then wonder about what time things are, etc.  Nothing more frustrating than walking by Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular at 10:30 am only to find out that the first show isn’t until 11:30 am.  No, it’s not a ride, it’s a show, and if you had picked up a Times Guide and then read it, you would know.  Remember the time equals money equation?  Knowing the times of events helps you get the most out of your vacation.
  • There’s a great spot to watch the evening parade at Magic Kingdom at the Main Street Train Station.  We took the train from Frontierland just a few minutes before the parade, walked down a set of steps and then had an elevated view of the parade.  No standing or sitting for several minutes—up to an hour or more—for the parade to start.  Just timed our train return well.  We were also ahead of the crowd exiting the park, as we went out the side exit—through the tunnel by the stroller return. 
  • Now that Fastpass return times are being strictly enforced, it can pay to get your Fastpass a little later in the day rather than first thing, depending on when you plan to return to that attraction.  We used to be the go grab as many Fastpasses as we could people, then use then all up later, regardless of the return time.  We can’t do that anymore.  So, when we arrived at the Magic Kingdom, we knew we wanted to ride Buzz Lightyear later in the day, so we waited until around lunchtime to get Fastpasses, as the return time being distributed then was what we wanted.  This is going to take some trial and error, until the Next Generation system is up and running and guests get to pick their return times.  Until then, it is a bit of a “feeling” or use of a mobile device that tells you what return times are being distributed via Fastpass at various attractions that lets you know when to grab your Fastpasses.  I can tell you that we had no problem getting Fastpasses or using then with the new enforcement of return times.  We also saw people being turned away when trying to use their Fastpass beyond the return time window.
  • Having said the above about Fastpass, know that they are free and available to all guests using their ticket media.  Yet, there are still some guests who are not using Fastpass at all.  For example, we grabbed Buzz Lightyear Fastpasses around lunch time for a 2:00 ish return time.  The Stand-bye queue had a wait of 45 minutes.  Had those guests grabbed Fastpasses, they could be doing other things for those 45 minutes and ride the ride at about the same time as they would had they stood in line.  I don’t get the thinking.  Maybe they already had Fastpasses and weren’t able to get another set yet?  Who knows?  It still has me shaking my head.  The husband says to let it go, as it means more Fastpass availability for us.
  • Know the park hours. This information is posted on-line and is also included in the information you receive upon checking in to your Walt Disney World Resort.  On every trip, we have seen guest frustrated because they thought a park was opening an hour before it actually was.  This last trip, we were at Hollywood Studios with guests asking what time the park opened as they were under the impression that it opened an hour earlier.  OK.  The husband and I had a chat about this one.  We chalked it up to two different possible misunderstandings.  One being the misunderstanding of Extra Magic Hours.  Extra Magic Hours are NOT at every park every day, but at least one park each day either AM or PM, as compared to Universal where on-site guests are admitted an hour early each day.  Another possible explanation, that the husband thought of, was the confusion between Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios and the thinking that the Disney Park would be open to resort guests an hour early every day.  Yet, our last trip, we saw this same thing happen at the Magic Kingdom.  Lesson:  Do a bit of homework and understand Extra Magic Hours and which Disney parks have them on which day and then plan accordingly.  Calendars are found on various web-sites including the official site for Walt Disney World.
  • This tip comes directly from the husband:  When waiting. . . anytime. . . for a park to open, to see a character, etc. take the opportunity to visit with Cast Members.  Not about the weather, but about the park, Disney, etc.  You never know what you might learn or what might happen because of your conversation. 

We just can’t help ourselves!  We love it the most magical place on earth.  During our most recent trip, we were at Animal Kingdom waiting to see Thumper and Ms. Bunny, another guest told us that we glowed.  What a compliment!  We have learned so much from our experiences and feel like we get so much from our Disney vacations. . . you know that time equals money thing.  Hope you feel the same! 

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