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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Debunking Walt Disney World Myths and Misconceptions

It’s time to debunk the myths and misconceptions about Walt Disney World.  Trust me, many of them exist.  I have seen guests operate with misconceptions only to be fraught with frustration and confusion and still get questions about some of the myths and misconceptions.  It is time to set the record straight!

Can I add days to my park ticket and then use those days to park hop to another park on that same day?  No. 

It would be cheaper to do this and Disney knows this, so once a park ticket has been put through the turn styles and activated with your finger scan, it cannot be activated at another park on the same day unless the Park Hopper option has been added to the ticket.  You can leave the same park and return—no hand stamping required—your ticket will be good to go to get back into the same park on the same day if you leave. 

Now, having said that, Disney has recently changed some of the pricing structures for ticket add-ons, such as Park Hopper and Water Parks & More, making it more affordable for guests to add both onto their base tickets.

Walt Disney World is the Magic Kingdom, right?  Wrong!

You have no idea how many times we have heard that within the confines of the Walt Disney World Resort and beyond!  Walt Disney World has four theme parks, Magic Kingdom is one of them—EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom round out the rest, two water parks, twenty-two resorts hotels, two miniature golf courses (more depending on how you count them) and several regular golf courses, Downtown Disney, and the Wide World of Sports complex.  We are talking about 47 square miles of resort, larger than two Manhattans or about the size of San Francisco—much more than just the Magic Kingdom.

I can just show up at Walt Disney World and do everything I want without making any plans, right?  Yes. . . you CAN do that, but most likely you’ll leave not ever wanting to return.

If you do just “show up” like you would at smaller amusement parks—Six Flags, Cedar Point, etc, you will get to ride rides and maybe see a show, if you stumble upon it, and possibly bump into a few characters, but you most likely won’t eat at a table service location including character dining, etc.  And, most likely, you’ll miss some things you wished you had done. 

A prime example of this is the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at Hollywood Studios.  We have seen and heard of guests making their way by the entrance only to be disappointed that they can’t go in—thinking it is a ride.  They get confused when they realize it is a show, with specific show times and now they have to rethink what they are doing and make a decision—come back when it is time and/or what to do now?  Had there been some advance planning or even looking at the Times Guide they picked up with their park map, they would now know it is a show and plan accordingly.

Guests who just show up at Walt Disney World without doing any planning or research prior to their trip are typically the folks that return home saying they “hated it” and “won’t ever go back.”  I used to try to change their minds, but have since given that up and have reframed my thinking into “okay, more room for me and my family when we go!”

Fastpasses cost extra.  Or, Fastpasses are only for guests staying on property.  False and False!

Fastpasses are FREE and can be obtained and used by any guests with their ticket media at Walt Disney World.  Guests who think this are meshing what they know about those other theme parks across town that offer an “Express” service for an extra fee or free for guests staying at their resorts.

If I am staying on property I get into any park an hour early.  No, but. . . there are AM Extra Magic Hours for on-site guests at certain parks on certain days.

Okay, this one is another meshing of info about the theme parks across town—as the above statement is true for them.

At Walt Disney World, certain parks have Extra Magic Hours either in the morning or after the park’s official closing time for guests staying on site.  There is a calendar informing guest which parks have Extra Magic Hours on which days.  So, a guest staying on property CAN get into a park with AM Extra Magic Hours on that particular day an hour prior to the park opening to the general public.

Photopass is expensive.  Photopass is FREE, purchasing Photopass products can be expensive.

Disney’s Photopass service allows photographers to take photos of guests and have them assigned to a specific account using a Photopass card.  Guests can then purchase prints, downloads, or other products from the pictures on the account.  While one photo download can cost $14.95, a pre-purchase Photopass CD at $119 with unlimited photos taken and then the ability to edit, add borders, signatures, etc. and copyright release can be a bargain depending on the number of photos taken.

Staying on property is expensive.  Yes, it can be.

The twenty-two on property resort hotels offer guests choices of value, moderate, and deluxe accommodations.  The size, location, and amenities will determine the cost.  And, yes, a cost per night comparison with off-site hotels will mean savings.  But, guests staying off-site then need to add on additional costs such as car/gas, taxi or shuttle service, and parking.  Guests choosing off-site accommodations do not have access to Extra Magic Hours or Disney Transportation which gets them closer to theme park entrances and can take to/from various parks, resorts, water parks, and Downtown Disney.  When considering these perks of staying on-site along with Disney’s Magical Express Service which is free transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and any Walt Disney World Resort and any potential discounts offered throughout the year, staying on-site can be a value.

We will go and do it all!  Okay, I want to hear about how you did that.

Doing it all, of course, is open to interpretation and requires clarification.  If it means seeing and doing all that Magic Kingdom has to offer, I would agree with the statement, but still with some skepticism.  Maybe they mean they rode all the rides at Magic Kingdom.  I would nod with agreement to that clarification.  Of course, it may mean that shows, character meet and greets, exploring Tom Sawyer’s Island, riding the Liberty Belle, seeing parades and fireworks weren’t on the agenda.

Even after 9 trips, we haven’t done “it all.”  There are still things we have missed, skipped, aren’t ready for, or just aren’t interested in.  That’s part of the magic that is Walt Disney World with something everyone can enjoy and always more to explore and experience. 

Take Hollywood Studios for example.  When you read the Times Guide you’ll notice that many of the shows are scheduled at the same time. . . Beauty and the Beast and Lights, Motors, Action for instance.  I have seen the Beauty and the Beast live show once—our very first trip—and most likely won’t see it again as testosterone has ruled our touring ever since and now Lights, Motors, Action gets the time slot.  We typically don’t even get to the part of Hollywood Studios where the Beauty and the Beast stage is except when it is time to go to Fantasmic as the boy is just now contemplating Tower of Terror and Rock-n-Roller Coaster continues to be a “no.”  The husband and I have both ridden Tower of Terror on separate occasions when the other parent and boy were occupied with other activities.  (Keeping our fingers crossed for a family go on Tower of Terror!)

EPCOT isn’t for kids.  Or. . . EPCOT is boring.  Really. . . well, you best not go then.

I’m being sarcastic with my reply, but really, there’s some honesty in the response as if a guest really does think or feel that EPCOT doesn’t have anything for kids or is boring, the park will be less crowded when we arrive to enjoy our time.

If EPCOT isn’t for kids then our son must be an anomaly as EPCOT is his favorite park.  Who wouldn’t love fast cars, Soarin’ over California, visiting Nemo’s world, interacting with Crush, traveling back in time to the age of Dinosaurs, watching Chinese acrobats, cruising through Mexico, listening to Japanese drummers, or watching French mimes balance and climb chairs?  As I have written before, EPCOT is not an “in your face” park as you can’t see the attractions just by walking by.  You have to go inside to find the gems and jewels.

I’m sure there are even more myths and misconceptions like Animal Kingdom is just a zoo, or you can refill your mugs in the parks, or I won't have to stand in line to meet characters, or I’ll just catch the next Magical Express bus, or Walt Disney World is just for kids and families all of which are not true.

It can be difficult to not let the ignorance reign for something that is near and dear to our hearts.  Sometimes we inform and correct.  Sometimes we ignore.  Sometimes we watch and learn.  And, sometimes we make mistakes when park touring and self-correct when it doesn’t go well.  As I said to someone just yesterday, there’s more than one way! 


  1. Would love to hear how you go about planning a trip! We'll be spending over a week at WDW. I've been picking one park per day based on if it has magic hours.

    Fellow family from Iowa...

  2. Fellow family from Iowa,
    Your wish is my command. Keep checking for the post!