I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO PLAN SO MUCH/IT LOOKS LIKE LOTS OF ORGANIZATION
Yes, this is true. More so than my trips to Disney World in the past.
So, if you like lots of planning and research like me then PLAN A TRIP TO Disney World!
If not – you can get a travel service to do it for you. These two come highly recommended and are free (Disney pays them via commission):
But yes, it takes a ridiculous amount of planning ahead.
I will get into more details in my next post but I did have to plan our days ahead of time which seemed frustrating. I mean how am I supposed to know what we want to do on February 27th at 2PM? Do we WANT to be on the Slinky Dog Roller Coaster (which, by the way, I let my Fast Pass go for this one and never rode it!) Or do we want to be eating dinner at 4PM at Tusker House at Animal Kingdom?
Travelling with young children and having to schedule so much seemed bananas.
I wanted to be carefree and go with the flow but if I had to be at the Magic Kingdom to get on Seven Dwarves Mine Train at 3PM on March 1st, how was this going to work?
We booked our trip less than 180 days in advance and no word of a lie, most of the restaurants were already booked!
If that happens to you- as I learned – it’s not really a big deal (and I explain why in Part 2).
UNLESS, you want a very early morning reservation or a reservation at Cinderella’s Castle. This one definitely gets booked 6 months early and I did not see it come up once under cancellations.
The other part that takes planning are your FastPass+.
What are FastPasses you ask?
A Fast Pass is a time window that you book (an hour with a grace period after they expire of 10 minutes) to get to the front of the line.
They are FREE. FREEEEEEEE.
In some theme parks you can pay extra to have front of line access so people don’t believe they are free. But, yes, they are free. And they only have so many per time so you truly are guaranteed to head to the front of the line (or near the front).
Choosing what rides to get them for and what times to get them for are a bit of an art. Each person gets three per day per ONE park. Once those three are used up, you are able to book another fast pass in whichever park you want.
In the Magic Kingdom, all rides and events are created equal and you can get a fast pass for Mine Train, Splash Mountain and Space Mountain (the big attractions).
At Epcot, Hollywood, and Animal Kingdom the rides are broken down into tiers.
Take Animal Kingdom: all the Pandora rides are in Tier One. You can only choose ONE ride in this tier. You can choose three in Tier Two, or one in Tier One and two in Tier Two.
It honestly makes sense once you get there, but it can seem confusing if you don’t know the lay of the land.
This is where your head might want to explode when it comes to planning.
What I did was this:
I cross-referenced the Crowd Calendar, my EMH (that Extra Magic Hours) timetable, and what parks we wanted to hit first and came up with a rough schedule.
Then I chose what rides were most important to us in each park.
Due to the fact we have small children, I opted for Peter Pan (yes, you need FastPass for this) and Enchanted Tales with Belle over Splash Mountain. Or Frozen in Epcot over Test Track. And Alien Swirling Saucers in Hollywood (fun fact- my children liked NONE of these rides). If your kids want to meet the characters – you can get FastPasses for all the meet and greets.
The rule of thumb is to get your FastPasses scheduled between 11 AM – 1 PM so that you can book other rides later in the day.
See? An easy-going trip. Just kidding. It was not.
Having to rely on what Fast Passes were booked truly made us more regimented than I wanted to be. When we finally got to Florida, figured out how our kids dealt with the heat, walking and waiting in line – I wanted to change plans! But these damn FastPasses were set in stone. And there isn’t much flexibility to change them. We ended up going to Animal Park one more day than needed to go on a damn Pandora ride (the river one – honestly not worth it) and I gave up my coveted Slinky Dog FastPass because we were having so much fun at Magic Kingdom. Alas – these are seriously first world problems.
Mouse Hacking has a very good post on this over HERE.