Walt Disney World Vacation Planning: Expert Tips, Tricks & Ideas
When Snow White graced our cover in April 1972, admission to the park was just $3.50.
Don’t stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge if little Sally wants to ride Dumbo every single day. Here’s a guide to Disney’s resorts, based on your needs:
- If you have young children: Try the Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort, where you can walk to the toddler-friendly Magic Kingdom.
- If you want some serious pool time: Try the Beach Club Resort. Stormalong Bay, a mini water park, is on site.
- If Dad’s more of the safari type: Try the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which sits on a wilderness preserve.
- For a good value: Try the Pop Century. For a weeknight in mid-June, rooms run $124 a night, compared to $190 for a moderate-level resort (one level up from a value resort) and $310 for a deluxe-level resort.
FASTPASS tickets, which you get from park kiosks, give you a scheduled window of time to visit a popular attraction. Show up and you bypass the regular (standby) line. Here, some pointers:
- Stock up in the morning. You got there early, right? After you relish a couple of crowd-free rides, grab some FAST-PASS tickets for other biggies while the kiosk lines are still short.
- If the ride’s standby line isn’t long, don’t waste your FASTPASS. Use it for a second spin on Space Mountain once the line snakes around the building.
- Feel free to use them past the assigned window of time. “If it says 1:30 to 2:30, and it’s 3:00, go right ahead,” says Chuck. “The only restriction is that you must use them before the day’s end.”
Disney has worked hard to make standing in line fun for parents and kids, with interactive games and animatronics greeting you at every roped turn. Our experts agree that these three attractions give you the coolest in-line experiences:
- Expedition Everest: The “line” starts at a remote village at the base of Mt. Everest and winds through The Yeti Museum.
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Parents take one for the team here, but there’s a great play area for kids to run free while Mom and Dad stay in line.
- Toy Story Mania! Mania it is; lines can be hours long. But if it’s only 30 or 45 minutes, it’s worth waiting just to hang out with the amazing Mr. Potato Head.
- Get a daily guide at the Magic Kingdom entrance, which will tell you where to find the meet and greets.
- If your child wants autographs, have the book open to a blank page. Characters have big fingers, so it’s hard for them to flip.
- Bring retractable pens that click open. (Less fumbling to get the cap off.)
- Ask the reservations manager to book the last available meal slot. “By the end of your seating, the restaurant will have cleared out, and the characters will spend extra time with your children,” says Sheri McGowan, a park character whose Disney persona will remain anonymous.
“It’s wonderful, and not as crowded as other meals,” says Lou Mongello, producer and host of WDW Radio. No Cinderella (she dines in her castle or the Grand Floridian Resort), but the other princesses will visit individual tables, which isn’t always the case elsewhere.
a free soda from Club Cool in Epcot, which offers fountains of soft drinks from all over the world, such as Smart Watermelon from China.
Bad weather can be good luck. Crowds tend to scatter. “And in Florida, we get a shower for 20 minutes, then it’s over,” says Lou. Duck into a coffee shop, then take advantage of shorter lines. When it comes to the Florida heat, remember that most Epcot attractions are indoors. Plus, it’s the most spread out of the parks, so even if you’re walking more, it feels less congested.