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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Once In A Lifetime or Frequent Visitor? Which Are You?

Are you a “once, maybe twice in a lifetime” Disney visitor or “frequent visitor”?  It seems that folks who travel to Disney typically fall into one of these categories and their park touring style may be reflective of the category.  So, which category might be reflective of the commando park touring style?  I would surmise that either category would support the rope drop to park close Disney vacationer.  Let’s explore some more. . .

The once, maybe twice, in a lifetime guest wants to either take the kids because they went as a child or put a check mark next to items on a bucket list or feels pressured by the media to go at least once to find out what all the fuss is about at Walt Disney World.  They may stay on property or off and may only visit one of the four parks.  Amount of homework may vary and the quality of their experience will vary based on the amount of homework and planning. 

We have heard, seen, and know these folks.  Most of them never return to Walt Disney World citing bad experiences of heat, crowds, and long lines.  Many weren’t planning on returning anyway, hence the once in a lifetime category.

A variety of park touring styles can be found in the once in a lifetime group, including commando style park touring.  You know, the rope drop to park close folks.  (And, yes, we sometimes resemble this ourselves—just not everyday!)  They want to get the most out of their vacation dollar and attempt to ride every ride, see every show and parade, and experience every nighttime spectacular in each park. . . sometimes going from park to park on the same evening to experience the events.  Sound exhausting?  It IS exhausting and this is another reason some once in a lifetime guests stay just that.

There are some rare birds who start in the once in a lifetime category who have done homework and planned their trip, trying to get the most out of their Disney vacation.  For example, a friend and her family just returned and for a first timer, she knew about refillable mugs, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the value and convenience of staying on property and using Disney’s Magical Express service, Disney Dining Plan, and Photopass.  Not bad!  And, while she and her family may now be in the once in a lifetime category, I would bet that changes. . . eventually.

That is how we were on our first trip.  The husband and I reminisce about our first trip with the realization that we have many more tricks up our sleeve now when it comes to visiting Walt Disney World, but our first trip was pretty good, too.  We knew about character dining, the value and convenience of staying on property and Disney’s Magical Express service, Disney Dining Plan, and Extra Magic Hours.  We still weren’t sold on Photopass yet. . . that took until trip number three.  And, at the time of our first trip, we had no idea we would be returning.  It wasn’t until we got home, reflected on our experience and knew we were hooked that trip number two was booked.  Funny because as we are days away from trip number 10, two hundred dollars is in the budget to reserve trip #11 with approximate costs, etc. 

And, just like others before us and after us, we were transformed to frequent visitors.  You can recognize frequent visitors by their demeanor and usually, their attire.  Frequent visitors know how to dress comfortably for park touring—no flip flops or high heeled shoes in this category (YES, we have seen this!).  They have park touring bags, have maps, but are seldom seen reading them and are instead checking the Times Guide off to the side of a walkway.  They have more of relaxed and yet excited attitude that eludes confidence.  Just ask Cast Members.  They can recognize frequent visitors and sometimes know them by name! 

Frequent visitors have a park touring pace that is steady and efficient.  They also know when to slow down, and dare I say it, take a break.  As I type this, I’m smiling because the husband is going to read it and say, “Take a break, yeah, we never do that.”  He’s right.  I just can’t fathom the mid-day break, but I can make an early evening happen.  We typically have one late night that includes Wishes or Illuminations in each of our trips.  I’m okay with heading back to our resort at 7:00 pm and soaking in the hot tub before bed.  So, honey, that is a break!  Frequent visitors know that by going slower, for lack of a better word, they will actually get to see and do more.  And, if they miss something, they know they are coming back!

For example, the boy is a bit disappointed that we aren’t going to EPCOT during our upcoming trip.  Yet, he knows Test Track will be waiting for him for the next trip.

So, which are you?  Once in a lifetime or frequent visitor?  And, what do you wish to be?  Remember, a dream is a wish your heart makes.


  1. Oh we are most def the frequent visitor to Disneyland (with the occasional disney world trip) we plan to go every 2-3 years and soooo look forward to those 8 days!

  2. I booked my second trip at the Orlando Airport waiting to come home from the first trip... Feb 2013 cannot get here fast enough!!!!!!!!!

  3. Michael,
    February will be here before you know it! I would say you are well on your way to frequent visitor status. Enjoy the anticipation!

  4. We fall into frequent visitor. Hubby and I went for our honeymoon, again 2 yrs later. Took our boys when they were 4 and 6, and have been back for 5 yrs. One son is special needs (makes for an exhausting trip), so we decided to take this year off. He has already started asking when we are going-even after being told we aren't. Trying to figure out how to go very inexpensively since they are both"adults"now

    1. Kim,
      You have definitely kept the magic alive for your boys and made many memories. We have the same issue with our son now being 10--price wise. Our next trip we are not getting the dining plan--this kept the price reasonably --and plan to pay out of pocket for food. We got great rates on our air, too, which is helping with the total budget. Thanks for reading the Williams Family Blog!