Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Tips for visiting Disney World

The next time we go to Disney World we are going to save up enough money to stay in one of the Disney Resort hotels. The convenience of having ready access to the parks without having to rely on taxis or a once-a-day shuttle service would be well worth it.
This time we stayed at a hotel that was just two miles away from Disney because of the special deal we got that included our free airplane tickets. But the shuttle service offered by the hotel would leave every morning at 7:45 a.m. and would not return before 6 p.m. or 10 p.m. respectively. This was not ideal for a 2-year-old who needed to sleep late after a long-day at the theme park with no afternoon nap. Also, despite its close proximity to the park, the shuttle would make numerous stops at different hotels so the trip would take at least a half hour. So we only took the morning shuttle one time and relied on alternative (and thus expensive) transportation for the rest of the trip.
If you are going to wind up paying $40 a day for taxis two and from the park you might as well add that to the cost of your hotel and upgrade to a Disney resort where the shuttles are more frequent and go to all the parks.

I would recommend that at least one time during your trip you go to the park early enough to see the opening ceremonies at Magic Kingdom at 9 a.m. While all the people are crowded around the front entrance waiting for the gates to open they have a troup of actors come out and do an opening song-and-dance number just before the train arrives carrying Mickey and all the other Disney characters.
Then once the park opens you have at least two hours where there is almost no waiting in lines for rides and shows until the crowd finally builds up by late morning.
Once the crowds build up you can still utilize the parks’ nifty FastPass feature to get on some rides. You go to the ride where there is a long line and you scan your park pass into a machine that spits out a ticket assigning you a time to come back - usually about an hour later - when you can then skip ahead of the line and be seated almost immediately.
All of the rides don’t have FastPass options and you are only allowed to have one FastPass ticket at a time, but it is still a nice way to avoid some of the long lines and give yourself more time to enjoy the rest of the park.
Of course, there are some times when standing in a line - provided that it is under shade - isn’t such a bad thing.

We found it convenient to carry a backpack with all of our son's diapers and wipes as well as his snacks and sippy cup. Other items I would recommend carrying include sun screen, a water bottle and an umbrella. There are lots of water fountains around the park where you can refill your bottle throughout the day and remember that it usually rains every afternoon around 4 p.m.
You may also want to carry a notepad and a pen, especially if you have small children, because the Disney characters are happy to sign autographs while having their pictures taken.
The other nice thing about staying at the Disney resorts is that if you buy things they can deliver them to your room rather than you having to lug them around the park for the rest of the day.

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