Do you know that feeling you get when you are watching a horror movie, and one of the characters decides to investigate a noise in the basement? Inwardly you are shouting “No, you idiot; no!”, but there is nothing you can do to stop them. You watch in impotent dread, because you know what’s going to happen next.
I often feel this way when people are discussing the plans for their upcoming Walt Disney World trips with me. If they come to me early on in the planning process I can help improve their vacation. If they call me a week before their trip and run their plans by me, at that point I’m about as useful as an audience member in a slasher flick. All that I can do at that point is stand back and watch the carnage. Because by then, there’s nothing I can do. They don’t really want help; they just want confirmation that they have made the right plans. And while I outwardly smile, on the inside I’m shouting “No, you idiot; no!”
Don’t be an idiot. Here are some important tips to keep you out of the serial killer’s basement:
- Plan on getting to the parks well before their scheduled opening time. I don’t know why people refuse to believe me on this one, but trust me; the smartest thing you can do is get to the parks early and make a beeline for the most popular attractions. This is going to save you hours of waiting in lines, and I am not exaggerating. At Epcot, head straight to Soarin’. At DHS, make a beeline for Toy Story Mania. Be sure to hit Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom first, and at the
either head to Magic Kingdom or Space Mountain . Don’t bother grabbing Fastpasses at this point; just get directly on the ride. After that, grab a Fastpass for the number two attraction on your list and proceed from there. Splash Mountain
- Speaking of Fastpasses, use them. Integrate them into your strategy. Unless you like waiting in 90 minute long lines, that is.
- Familiarize yourself with the layout of the parks before arriving. You aren’t going to be able to book it back to Toy Story Mania if you don’t know where it is.
- Only do a character breakfast if you can get fit into point number 1. You can actually get into the parks prior to park opening for some character breakfasts. If you can do this; great. You can actually be done eating and be situated deep in the park before others are even allowed in. Otherwise, skip it and do a character lunch or dinner later. You don’t want to waste those precious early morning hours waiting for pancakes when you could be riding Peter Pan.
- Use Extra Magic Hours to your advantage. Oddly enough, I do this by avoiding the parks with Extra Magic hours for that day. If everyone else is flocking to that park, I’d rather be someplace else. Also, the best park to be in early is whatever park had Extra Magic Hours the evening before. For example if the Magic Kingdom was open late on Monday, Tuesday is a great day to visit the MK.
- Stay on-property. Yes, I know it’s expensive. If it means saving up for an extra few months, do it. It is so worth it.
- Don’t think that just because someone is a travel agent that they are a Disney expert. If booking a trip to Walt Disney World is the same for a travel agent as booking a trip to Las Vegas, there is no way I’m going to entrust them with my Disney vacation. If you want some assistance with your trip, utilize a travel agent that specializes in Disney vacations. I’ve heard travel agents give incorrect WDW information to clients, and it ticks me off. Don’t trust your expensive vacation to a Disney poser; make sure they have personally stayed at Walt Disney World several times.
- Don’t pay rack rates. People will call 407-WDW-DISNEY or go to http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/, book their trip, and then ask me if they got a good deal. I don’t have the heart to tell them that they probably didn’t. Before booking your trip, check http://www.mousesavers.com/, www.wdwinfo.com, or www.allears.net to see what discount codes may be available.
I realize I’ve made many of these points before, but for some reason, people often just don’t listen. I’m just trying to keep you off a meat hook in a cold storage unit somewhere -- or whatever the Disney equivalent might be.