“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”
Isn’t it insane how fast the holiday season and end of the year came? I just cant believe it. I feel like Halloween just hit! And even though I did the majority of my shopping in September and October, I still spent part of the day looking for last minute ideas and knitting my big project. Yikes.
Anyways, let’s go back to how I conquered Disney World. My fiance (jesh!) said to me, after reading my last post, “Stop revealing our secrets!” So you better enjoy this!
On our second day, we woke up super early to make it to Disney World for the rope drop. The opening of Magic Kingdom is the BEST out of all three parks. They put on a show as a train opens the gates and then ride staff walk you to the ride of your choice.
Here’s where my biggest hint comes in…. NO MATTER WHAT, GO LEFT! Seriously. Whenever you have a choice to go left or right in a park or in a line, go left. Most people will choose right. In the case of Magic Kingdom, most people will head to the most popular rides in Tomorrowland (Space Mountain, specifically).
So going left, you have a better chance of beating crowds. In our case, we went left and found ourselves at Fronteirland. We had a choice to go for Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. With temps around 65 at 8am, we went with Big Thunder. We originally planned on getting fastpasses, but we quickly realized that we were the FIRST people in line for the ride. As the ride operator led us up the “mountain,” we decided it would be a waste to not take on the opportunity to ride a fastpass ride in 2 minutes.
As soon as we finished, we circled the park and got fastpasses for Space Mountain. With a two hour wait to use the pass (we got ours at around 8:10am, and it was already up to 10:30am), we headed back towards Adventureland and got on Pirates with NO LINE. I couldn’t believe it. We literally sprinted through the place. Here’s the proof:
After we finished, we headed towards Haunted Mansion (my favorite Magic Kingdom ride), rode it with, again, no line. At this point, it was about 9am. We had ridden three of the most popular rides with NO lines. Wanting to test our luck, we walked back to Tomorrowland to ride one of the COOLEST of the newer rides: Buzz Lightgear Space Ranger Spin. There were fastpasses for this ride, and when we visited it at night, the lines were over 40 minutes, so it must be popular when the kids start getting there. But in the morning, the wait was nothing. When we got out, it was the perfect time to ride Space Mountain. Well worth the fastpass.
Our longest wait of our entire trip was, oddly enough, at astro orbiter. Seriously. But it was, tops, 15 minutes. With energy to spare and the park filling up with the younger crowd, we headed over to Fantasyland. They are basically redoing the whole land, but most the main rides remain. So we grabbed the fastpasses for Peter Pan and headed for the must-do ride, It’s a Small World and the Tea Cups. I loved it. B did not. I probably should not have spun it so hard:
My must-meet characters were the Evil Stepsisters. I didn’t really have hopes to find them, but as soon as we got out of Peter Pan, there they were! They were a hoot, especially when they saw our “Just Engaged” buttons.
Around noon, we realized that it was warming up enough to give Splash Mountain a try. The crowd was still older or people just getting in to the park, so the line without a fastpass was manageable. Normally, this would be the most popular, non-Space Mountain ride, but going off season during colder weather has its benefits. Go mid-morning or early afternoon. Best part was that we got to ride it without getting wet (ride in the back two seats)! WOOO!
The park easily starts to fill up after noon. Younger kids are fully awake, the parades are going, and the weather is warming up. If you can, get out of the park or do your shopping (away from Main Street where the parades are). We headed to Downtown Disney for the afternoon where I did some Christmas shopping and B indulged in some cigars from Sosa.
We did dinner at Citricos. It’s one the ritziest and priciest restaurants in the whole resort, but it was NOT worth it. I really think that because we were dressed casually (which you can do) and because we were young, we didn’t get top notch service that the other tables around us did. It was pretty disappointing, to be honest. Dont get me wrong, the food was great (I had the beef and B had tofu), but we felt completely jaded by the lack of attentiveness and inability to quickly and effectively serve us.
The best part of going to the Grand Floridian for dinner was taking the boat back to the Magic Kingdom for magic hours. What we didn’t plan for was the MASSIVE amounts of people there to see the fireworks show. The park was completely congested, so try to work around the edges. Do not go towards the castle! While the fireworks went, we rode Haunted Mansion (again), got on Dumbo, made it on the Carousel of Progress, walked through the castle, and ended the night on Cinderella’s Carousel.
Seeing the castle lit up was the icing on the cake for an almost perfect day. It is GORGEOUS. Pictures do not do it justice…
So… what rides did we not ride?:
Jungle Cruise, Swiss Family Tree House, Magic Carpets, Snow White (a regret, simply because the ride is closing in January), and Tomorrowland Speedway. We also skipped almost all of the shows, but we would have done them if we stuck around in the afternoon. Looking at that list, I am completely happy with how our plans played out. This is the Holy Grail of theme parks, and I think we did it justice.
Here’s a quick recap on how we did it:
- Make a list of “must see/do” rides and a secondary list, and agree upon it before you go.
- Get there for the rope drop, maneuver your group to the front of the line. Once you get past the bag check, it’s just a huddle by the gates…
- GO LEFT. Hit Fronteirland first and THEN go towards Fantasyland. Once you are done riding your first fastpass line (without a fastpass), you can easily get a fastpass for the other big rides.
- Ride water rides and any bigger kid rides in the mid-morning and then hit the little kid rides as the park fills up.
- Avoid Main Street and the Cinderella Castle routes after 12pm. It’s easier to circle the back of the castle than it is to go through it.
- The wait signs are usually inflated by about 10 minutes. Get in line for any ride that has under a 20 minute wait or prioritize what is worth waiting for while you are holding on to a fastpass.
- If you can live without fireworks, ride the rides during the shows! And dont be afraid to use up the magic hours. While we were there, the park was open till 3am. We stayed till about 12:30.
But my biggest tip? Get a silhouette done! Seriously, how cool is this? We got two copies and framed for much cheaper than the drawn caricatures. You can get them done on Main Street and also Downtown Disney, but Magic Kingdom’s versions are about $5 less.
See ya tomorrow for EPCOT!