Planning a Disney trip this year? We just got back from Orlando and I wanted to share some tips on how to navigate the Magic Kingdom. We had so much fun even though we went during one of the busiest weeks of the year… spring break!
It was crowded, but I was really impressed with how well Disney manages such a large crowd. I did talk to one of the employees on the tram back to the parking lot and he told me that the best time to come is late september and October. He said that spring break, summer, and the month of December will have the biggest crowds there.
1. Get there early! Plan to be there at least 30 minutes before the park opens. The parking lot is very intense and it will take you that long to get to the gate. You have to first take a tram from the parking lot to the kiosks. There you can buy your tickets and then hop aboard a ferry boat or a train that will take you to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. If you get in the park right as they open all the Disney characters are right there doing a welcome song and dance as you walk in. It is pretty cool to see, plus you can get a lot of your pictures done first thing without having to hunt for the characters through out your day.
2. Let them take your picture! They will hand you a card when they take your picture at the entrance. You can use this same card the entire day each time you want a family picture. You just hand them your card and they scan it, take the picture, and hand it back. After you get home there is a website on the photo card (disneyphotopass.com) you can go log in and view, share, or order any of the pictures you want. There are employees all over the place and they do not mind taking pics for you from your camera or iphone either.
3. Bring lots of snacks and drinks! Besides glass bottles, you can pretty much bring in whatever you want. I packed a backpack full of bottled water and snacks and passed them out to the kids while whenever we were in line somewhere. It kept the kids busy while waiting in line, plus it kept them full and we avoided buying food at the park. If you want to buy a meal at the park I would suggest doing it around 345pm. The dinner prices start at 4pm so that is your last chance to get a big meal for the lunch price. It is late enough that you can make it the rest of the day with just the snacks you packed.
4. If you need to bring a stroller make sure you distinguish it somehow. There are gazillions of strollers in the stroller parking area and sometimes the disney employees even move them around a bit to keep them organized. Our stroller was not always in the same spot we left it when coming back from a ride. We got some bright orange ribbon for 75 cents at the craft store and tied a bow around the handle to make it stand out. Some people bought balloons and tied that to their strollers too. The last thing you want to do is spend 10 minutes looking for your stroller in the crowd of strollers!
This is actually one of the smaller stroller park areas we used near the Haunted Mansion. Ours is the stroller with the orange ribbon tied to it. You can easily see how useful this was!
5. Use the fast passes! Here is how the fast passes work. In front of the major rides there is a fast pass kiosk. You put your admission ticket in and it prints out a ticket with a time printed on it of when you need to come back. Come back during this time and you enter a fast pass line that is dramatically different then the regular line. For example: We used a pass on Space Mountain. The regular wait time was 85 minutes and we only waited 12 minutes using the fast pass line. Don’t waste your fast passes though… once you have printed a fast pass you cannot get another for a couple hours so pick the rides you want to use them on wisely. I would suggest using them on the mountain rides (Splash, Space, and Thunder mountains).
This was our 2nd round of fast passes to Space Mountain. As you can see, we got the tickets at 1:50pm and were not able to get any more fast passes until 350pm
6. Use the free Disney app to estimate wait times. This was incredibly useful and helped us decide which rides to go on and when. We used the Disney World Wait Times app (has a picture of a frog on it). It was easy to use and also has a map of the park on it. You can also make lunch or dinner reservations and find where you favorite disney character is using the app.
6. I strongly recommend hitting up the classic rides in Fantasyland first. These are the famous Mad Tea Party, Flying Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, Railroad, Prince Charming’s Carrousel, etc.. If you dont do them first thing then you may not get to later on. They are very popular and the lines get pretty long later in the day. With all the other rides at the park I didn’t want to wait 40 minutes just to ride the tea cups if you know what I mean. Plus it gives you something to do while you wait to use your fast pass to nearby Space Mountain. :)
7. Stay for the parade and fire works. It makes for a long day, but you wont be disappointed. They really put on a great show. Dont underestimate the day time shows either. They give you a time to sit and relax for a bit and they really are well done. We went to the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor Show. It was pretty funny. I think I enjoyed it as much as the kids. You can text a joke into them on your way in to the theater and they really do try to use them in their act.