Right at the top of this article I have to admit that I’m not sure I like the title. When I say “get the most done,” I’m not saying it in the sense that a vacation to Disney World is like a pre-flight checklist. It’s about having fun and getting to have the most fun possible.
The focus in this article is on seeing the most and doing the most, which often (but not always) translates into fun. So I think you get the idea.
Here are ten ideas on ways you can approach your Disney vacation so that you can see and do the most.
1 – Arrive Early In The Morning
You thought that vacations were a chance to sleep in? Ha I say! Well, for those who have an objective to see and do lots on their Disney Vacation, this could be one of the best tips you will find. Arrive early. And by this,I mean make sure you show up at the entrance gate to the park at least 30 minutes before the park opens. And remember that Disney World is a big place where you will need to allocate time for transportation, parking, etc. But for all of this you will be richly rewarded. Not only will you get to see an opening ceremony if the park has one (like the opening ceremony at the Magic Kingdom), but many times you can experience more rides and attractions in the first hour or so of the park opening than at any other time of the day.
2 – Stay Late At Night
In the same way that crowds are thinner in the early morning, they are sometimes thinner in the late evening. All those folks who have been touring the park all day get pooped out and leave before the park closes. You can take advantage of this insider information: Plan to arrive early (see point 1 above), perhaps take a break and a nap mid-day when the crowds are at their peak, and then return in the evening and stay until the park closes.
3 – Use Extra Magic Hours
Extra Magic Hours (also known as “EMH” to those who love Disney acronyms) is when a Disney park opens early or stays open late, and only allows people staying at a Disney Resort Hotel in during those times. Yes, you must be staying at a Disney hotel to participate, and yes this perk is only available on certain days and at certain parks. But just like using the tip of arriving early, you can see and do so much more when the crowds are limited to just Disney resort guests.
4 – Take In The Most Popular Rides First
This is another terrific tip that can be the difference between spending several extra hours in line or using that time to have more fun. Be sure to see the most popular attractions first thing in the morning. For Epcot this means Soarin. For Disney’s Hollywood Studios this means Toy Story Mania. For Disney’s Animal Kingdom this means Kilimanjaro Safari. And for the Magic Kingdom this means Buzz Lightyear’s Ranger Spin. Now there are other very popular attractions at each park that you could also choose, but this gives you the idea. As soon as the gates open (you are there before that happens if you followed important tip number 1 above), walk safely and carefully to the first big-ticket attraction. You might even consider getting a FastPass before your first ride so that you can ride it again with little or no wait, later in the day.
5 – Have A Plan
You would be surprised at how many people get inside the park and then begin the great debate: What should we do? The time for that conversation is not when you are standing on Main Street USA. Before you step foot on Disney property, take the time to discuss as a group what you want to do – especially those points that follow the tips in this article. That doesn’t mean you need to have an extensive spreadsheet that plots out every minute of your vacation. But it does mean that you should have an idea of each person’s “must do” items, and have an idea of when you will come and go from each park (see tips 1, 2, and 3 above), and what you will do first each day (see tip 4 above).
6 – Charge Through The Rain
Especially in the summer time, it rains in Florida. Almost every day, at 2:00pm, the skies open and it pours. But then something magical happens. Maybe 30 minutes later, it stops. And the sun comes out. And life goes on. You can take advantage of this. Unless you fear for your safety, put on a poncho that you brought along with you and keep on going. Most rides stay open when it rains, and you won’t be wasting your time huddled in a gift shop waiting for the weather to pass.
7 – Eat When Others Aren’t Eating
The restaurants and quick service locations at Disney can get really busy. Which means you may need to wait in line to get in, wait for your food, and wait for a table to free up. During the busiest times of the year, or at the most popular locations, this may happen all day long. But you can minimize your downtime by eating when others aren’t eating. Have lunch at 11:00 or 3:00. Try a late afternoon snack and then eat dinner at 7:00. Plus, if you enjoy sit-down restaurants, make Advanced Dining Reservations to minimize your wait time.
8 – Ride When Others Are Watching The Parade Or Fireworks
The parades and fireworks at Disney World are amazing and I recommend that you see at least some of them. But if you’ve seen them before, you can take advantage of the times when the parades or fireworks are happening. They draw big crowds into the streets, which means that all those folks aren’t watching the shows or riding the attractions. Use those times to ride.
9 – Use FastPass+
If you know a little about Disney, you probably know that FastPass+ allows you to reserve attraction times in advance on-line, on your mobile device, or in the parks. Use this service. Many people think it is too complicated or requires too much planning. Phooey. You can save hours of waiting in line, especially for popular attractions, by using FastPass+. Take advantage of it.
10 – Don’t Make It A Mission
The entire purpose of this article was to help you see and do more at Disney World. That’s important, since there is so much to see and do. But that doesn’t mean that you should over-plan and charge ahead in an attempt to “see and do it all.” You simply can’t see and do it all, so don’t even try. Take the time to stop and smell the roses. Yes, you should arrive early, hit the most popular attractions first, use FastPass, and so on. But along the way you will undoubtedly stumble across characters, live performances, or other fun things that you should stop to enjoy. After all, this is a vacation and not a military operation.
Enjoy, See Lots, And Have Fun
By following the tips above you will be much better prepared to see and experience the fun that Disney has to offer. It will help you get the most out of your time at Disney World. But also remember that you are on vacation. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and your traveling companions. And remember to have fun.
What is your best tip for getting more done at Disney World?