Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Theme Park Tips--Holidays or otherwise

Our typical Thanksgiving is spent at home with me cooking way too much, squeezing more chairs around a crowded table in between home hockey games. This year (and all other lockout years) we had the opportunity to travel so we did. To Disney World.

The happiest place on earth is also a very crowded one during major holidays, but we were able to hit everything we wanted to, including the newly-expanded Fantasyland.

It can be done, my friends. And here are my quick tips on how to enjoy the Magic Kingdom with 100,000 other people.

1.) Use Fast Passes. EVERY RIDE THEY ARE OFFERED. Standby lines are for rookies.

2.) One of the longest lines we waited in all day was to get on the monorail before we even got to the park. Check the hours because they vary, but if it's a later close, think of shifting your day up by an hour or two. It cleared out around dinner time, and we could have avoided that first wait by leaving the hotel later.

3.) Do the park in a logical order. It astounds me that people crisscross hitting attractions out of order. This just adds needless time, especially if you're navigating large crowds that hate strollers. I once read that most people go to left when starting the park, but I don't think that's true if Space Mountain is to the right.

4.) Send your fastest runner ahead to collect Fast Passes. This saves you oodles of time.

5.) Did I mention Fast Passes? Because often if you are getting them for one ride, you may have the nice surprise of receiving more to another attraction. This happened for us while getting ours for Peter Pan--we got bonus passes for the new Dumbo ride.

6.) Focus on your must-see rides, but don't overlook others that may have a shorter line. Carousel of Progress might seem lame, but it sure is a cool spot to land while you wait for Buzz Lightyear. I'm looking at you, Swiss Family Robinson Tree House, Hall of Presidents and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.

7.) There was not a single reservation available the entirety of Thanksgiving Day inside the park (or at surrounding hotels for that matter) so if you have to settle for counter service, eat at off-times. before 11:30 or after 2:30 for lunch, early or late dinners.

8.) We are not parade people and if you aren't either, still make a note of when they are to avoid Main Street like...Main Street during a parade.

9.) Speaking of Fast Passes, they will give you an hour window in which to return. Try not to hit it at the exact return time, go about 20 minutes after the start time.

10.) Individual events like Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas parties are great if they are offered during your stay. While it seems that a 7:00 pm start time may not be enough time, tickets are less expensive than a full-day admission and you get more bang for your buck with less crowds and wait times.

Get your ears on this Christmas.
The new attractions in FantasyLand had just opened to the public earlier that week, and while we didn't get to go to the new Be Our Guest Restaurant which sounds like a Don't Miss, we enjoyed the new Ariel ride and the new Under the Big Top attractions that used to be Toon Town. Definitely worth the hype and it still has a lot to go including a new roller coaster for us big kids.

So don't be put off by the crowds this holiday season, it's about making memories. While I'm cynical about a lot of things, Disney is still one of the places my whole family enjoys together, and for that I am thankful.

And for Fast Passes.

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