2. Sanibel Getaway With the Help of Chase IHG Card Ceritificates
3. How To Survive Magic Kingdom
4. The Points Guy Hangs Out with Southwest Flight Attendants
5. Niagara Falls, Elvis and Amish. Oh My!
Have you seen all those photos of happy, smiling parents frolicking around Magic Kingdom with their equally happy children? It’s all a myth perpetuated by Disney’s monster marketing machine. I’m going to tell how it’s really going to be.
You will save your money all year for that magical vacation. You will spend a ton of hard earned cash on flights, lodging and food. You will most likely be hot, miserable, standing in line for the best part of the day. You will be surrounded by crowds of equally miserable parents and their screaming children. Some of the adults will be wearing Mickey and Minnie hats. What’s up with that? And you know what the craziest part is? After reading my post, you will still go.
So, I will try to provide some tips on how to survive the whole experience and possibly even enjoy some of it. Honestly, if it wasn’t for my kids, I would never step foot into a Magic Kingdom. However, as Florida residents, we get a special promotion of 3-day pass for 129 dollars from January through first of June. This year we had my parents over for a visit and they have never been to Disney. So, I figured we would save the last day of the pass for them. Plus, everyone told us, we just haaave to take my parents to Disney.
So, what can you do to minimize your discomfort? First, try to avoid summer. It’s brutal in Florida. Visit in the spring or fall if at all possible. Amazingly, we happened to be there on a cloudy day in June, and it was actually pleasant, a rarity indeed. Also, check this website for crowd size predictions on certain days of the week. Another useful website is Disboards.
Make sure to bring or rent a stroller. I don’t care if your kid is 8 years old and you get weird stares from other guests. It’s none of their business. It’s all about survival for you. Those Disney strollers look sturdy enough to cart me around, though probably not my husband.
After getting into the park, get your Fast Passes. You go to a special kiosk and get to pick 3 attractions with assigned time slots. It will cut down on your wait time considerably. Some of the most popular rides are Space Mountain, Peter Pan and the new Seven Dwarfs ride. My kids also enjoyed “Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” and the annoying “It’s a small world.” Bring ear plugs, you’ll thank me later.
Try to forget about how much everything costs, which is a LOT. Honestly, just resign yourself to the fact that you will be ripped off on every single thing and try not to care. Staying on Disney property is extremely expensive which is why we have never done it. However, the convenience factor can’t be beat.
It took us 1 hour to get from Magic Kingdom to our car. If you are staying at a Contemporary resort, you can just take the monorail or even walk, and be in your room in 10 minutes. But you will pay between 400-800 dollars per night for the privilege, and it will look just like the Holiday Inn room we stayed at for 109 dollars per night. Review is coming tomorrow.
There are a number of IHG properties nearby ranging from 20,000-30,000 points. Marriott hotels range between 20,000-35,000 points. One of the best deals is an SPG property Sheraton Lake Buena Vista resort that runs only 3,000 points on weekends and 4,000 on weekdays. If you have a decent stash of SPG points, this could be a very good deal, even if you have to get 2 rooms. You can also check multitude of condos on sites like VRBO or Sky Auction.
Our kids are 6 and 3 years old. Personally, I think 3 is too young to appreciate Disney. Our son had several meltdowns and was bored by most of it. He did love the train ride, though. If your kids are that age, I recommend you do something else, like a cruise to Bahamas. They have babysitting on ships and you can tour Atlantis in Nassau, which children would love.
If you still decide to go, I recommend you bring relatives or in-laws along. It would make things much easier on you. Even if you don’t like your in-laws, you will appreciate the help. You could even get park hopper tickets for yourself, go to Epcot and then rejoin the misery later in the day. Plus, your in-laws will never ask to vacation with you again, I guarantee it! In all honestly, my mom loved it. My dad is an introvert and hates crowds, so it wasn’t his cup of tea.
That said, there is something magical about the place. During the lights show at night, my son was exhausted, but kept smiling throughout the whole thing. You just can’t put a price on that. Or can you?
Allright, all of you Mickey and Minnie hat-wearing Disney apologists (and you know who you are), come on out, don’t be shy!
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Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.
Let meback up your point about AVOIDING DISNEYWORLD DURING SUMMER!!
I am here now, this week, and trying to enjoy a 4-day park hopper plan w/the family. Key word, Trying!! The heat here is brutal and there is hardly enough fans in ride waiting lines to keep you cool. The best advice I read was to come early, leave at noon, & come back late in the afternoon/early evening. That only works if you have that type of family. Not mine…we stay up late, get up late, & start our magical Disney adventures in the heat of the late morning /early afternoon.
There is one bonus though!! My wife keeps telling me that we are NEVER coming back to Disney!! Woo Hoo!!
P.S. I would also like to add…be careful making last minute vacation plans such as a summer Florida trip. This trip is entirely my fault for trying to put together a last minute vacation for the kids before going back to school. Lesson learned’!
@BB My condolences! 🙂
Honestly, just make the best of it and try to enjoy yourself. Good for you for making this trip happen, so you can spend time as a family. I’m sure, there will be some good memories when all is said and done.
Disney enthusiast here! I agree with you, the parks can be so tough and draining! That’s why we’ve converted to Disney cruises–the magic is there without the heat and long lines. However, my kids still love the parks, so we will continue to go there every now and then.
I took my 2 boys last summer to Disney World for a reunion at the end of July. We were lucky that Orlando was having a cold front and the temperatures were in the low 80s. We got to the park an hour before opening for a character breakfast and made it on a lot of rides before lunch. After lunch, we went back to our hotel for swimming and returned to the park around 6:00. It was a nice way to break up the day.
Conventions/reunions are a great way to cut the cost of those Disney hotels. Last year we stayed at Wilderness Lodge and next year we are staying at the Contemporary for a price in the low $200s with a group rate. Totally worth the cost, in my opinion!
Oh, I could go on and on about Disney….my favorite topic!
@Nancy Good for you for admitting that you are a die-hard Disney enthusiast! Nothing wrong with that. Thanks for your input. There are definitely some ways to minimize discomfort when going to Disney. Contemporary for $200 is absolutely a good deal. Heck, I probably would consider it myself under the right circumstances.
My daughter loves Magic Kingdom, and it was worth it to us to take my mom there, so they can share this experience together.
I can fly us to Orlando for free with Southwest and stay for free with Starwood…but I still cannot bring myself to pay $800 for tickets for the four of us for 2 days. And that doesn’t include any ridiculously over-priced food or anything else.
I went to the Magic Kingdom when we were at Disney for a convention in 2009. I was 8 months pregnant. I walked so much and it was so hot out that I overheated, peed my pants, and vomited on the little trolley that takes you back and forth. Good times.
@Holly LOL Tell it like it is, sister. You should include the last part of your comment in the testimonials page for Disney!
I agree with you, the cost of admission is just plain insane. I hated paying $129 for 3 days.
IMO, there are 3 types of people….those who love Disney World, those who have never been to Disney World, and those who have been to Disney World and did it wrong.
It is a fantastic place to visit, but you have to plan more than other vacations. Don’t go in the summer, get your fastpasses, get to the park early. Those 3 will get you 80% of the way there.
Beyond that, make advanced dining reservations if you want a nice sit down dinner and if you really want to maximize your time there and not spend your day standing in line, google Disney Touring Plans, well worth the cost.
@Mark Thanks so much for your tips! I absolutely agree with you that planning is essential when going to Disney. We did most of it wrong, though didn’t have much choice, really. We had to go in the summer this time around because that’s when my parents were visiting. We got lucky with the weather, still can’t believe that one.
I do think every family should go at least once. My advice is to wait till the kids are older if your budget is tight. I think at 3 or 4 years of age, children are just too young to appreciate it, considering how much this experience costs.
We have not visited DW yet, but plan to go within the next 2 years. As far as park tickets are concerned, one of my European colleagues informed me that there are special discount passes available for people outside the US. A quick google search turned up the following page that had info on this topic: http://www.mousesavers.com/walt-disney-world-tickets-for-uk-and-other-visitors . So potentially this could be a money-saving option if you have a friend in Europe who can buy these tickets for you. Also corporate discounts – if you work for certain employers that do a lot of business with Disney, you can get tickets cheaper (12% off at my former company). Just check with HR or your corporate benefits web site. One additional comment: It’s funny, in the past I would have never considered visiting Disneyland Paris, but I changed my mind after reading Mommy Points’ review. Perhaps it was the time of year that she visited, but her account sounded a lot less stressful than the Disney World experience that I remember as a kid 30 years ago.
@Erik I don’t know how old your kids are, but I think it’s wise to wait till they can go meltdown-free (a term?) for at least a couple of hours. Magic Kingdom can push adults over the edge at times. I saw many people yell at their kids, while walking around the park. I personally find it incredibly stressful to be around such huge crowds.
Thanks for mentioning a few ways to cut costs. Hopefully, some will look into that website you linked to. Oh, and as far as Disneyland in Paris goes, I vaguely remember that post on Mommy Points. It did look very pleasant, didn’t it? I don’t know if I would go there while in France, but it would be an interesting experience, no doubt.
My youngest is 4 and we’re waiting for her to grow a little bit taller to potentially avoid situations where her older sister can ride but she cannot. We have a big amusement park about 45 minutes away so we plan to use that as a meltdown testing ground. That Mousesavers site is chock full of all kinds of information and I forgot to mention the famous PIN code discount. Basically, you opt-in to Disney’s marketing efforts (e-mail list, order the planning DVD, etc.) and if you’re lucky they will send you a personalized discount code for free dining plan, 30% off, etc. Unfortunately, with miles/points I am usually planning our vacations about a year in advance, so when I recently received a “free dining” PIN code I couldn’t take advantage of the offer within the defined time period.
@Erik I think 6 is a good age. She should appreciate the whole experience much more. I’m not a huge expert on Disney discounts, so thanks for mentioning those. I do know that Chase Disney Visa gives 10% off on Disney shopping, though I wouldn’t apply for it due to mediocre bonus. I think there is debit card version, though I’m not familiar with it either.
Hopefully, I didn’t turn people off on the whole Magic Kingdom experience. My biggest advice is: Don’t go in the summer. Just ask my reader BB. 🙂
One comment about going in summer…plan in plenty of stops & shows where there is A/C available. There are websites that have this info.
I just got out of Country Bear Jamboree…which I would not normally care for (or my boys either) but the 20 mins of A/C was a welcome relief today.
I think the heat index is 108 degrees right now!!!
I’m Standing in line for Pirates of the Caribbean right now…in the A/C…I think this is the first time I’ve enjoyed having to wait!!!
Yo ho, yo ho a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage, we plunder, we rifle, and loot,
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot…
@BB Keep us updated. I love it! 🙂
Just more A/C adventures at the Buzz Lightyear ride.
Next up, Monsters Inc laugh floor for more A/C after the People Mover and then using our last Fastpass on Space Mountain before Fastpass reset.
Waiting in Space Mtn A/C line right now with youngest son. We should get two rides out of this…wife & other son opted out. More Fastpasses for us!!
In line for our second Space Mountain ride. Enjoying the cool A/C inside.
I guess it will be expensive dinner plans after this.
BTW, any comments on Disneys APP for the iPhone, MyDisney Experience?? Cool App but needs some improvements with FastPass updates & renewals…after using the first three, you have to get each subsequent FastPass manually at one of the few FastPass booths in the park!
@BB Thanks so much for giving us a detailed account of your “survival” experience in Magic Kingdom. I’m so sorry that my post came too little too late for you. You should be blogging, you are a natural! Actually, don’t. It’s a huge time sucker…
As far as the app goes, I’m not familiar with it, unfortunately. I don’t even own an iPhone.
Enjoy the rest of your time in Disney, and thanks for entertaining me today!
Next time you should get one of those mickey hats and try out the stroller while eating a mickey shaped ice cream bar! 🙂 My family enjoys the Disney parks. I have older kids who like the thrill rides and a younger one who likes the characters. There are also rides and shows for the whole family. We went to Disney World in September a few years ago and had low wait times and nice weather. We went to Disneyland in California last summer which was a little more crowded, but not too bad. We are going to Disneyland Paris this month! I’m hoping our Disney magic continues.
@Ann Thanks for stopping by! I might put on a Mickey hat next time we go, just for kicks. My humor tends to be on a bit of a sarcastic side, though hopefully not mean-spirited. My regular readers are used to the snark by now.
Honestly, it is an incredible experience, which is why it’s so ridiculously popular. The crowds, the weather and the stress can take away from the magic somewhat. Still, kids love it, and that’s all that matters.
How neat that you are going to Disneyland in Paris! If you want to do a short guest post on my blog with a few photos, detailing the experience, feel free to email me when you get back. I’m sure my readers would love to read about it.
Ironically, I missed this post because we were at disney this week. It was our 4th time in one year from Cincinnati,OH.
Mark got it right. The only reason one dies not like Disney is because they had the misfortune of committing a few missteps, or they were violently ill.
I’ve done two trips in August now, with the week you posted this being one of the hottest weeks I’ve experienced as an adult. We enjoyed ourselves so much we had already planned our next trip and bought an annual pass before we left.
We brought our daughter for the first time at 17 months. She’s been 3 times between 17 and 29 months.
We’ve over planned, we’ve under planned. We’ve driven , we’ve flown. We’ve stayed in the park all day , and left from 12-6 to cool down, refuel, and avoid lines.
We’ve packed lunches as grand as chili cheese dogs, nachos, and tortas to save money, and we’ve splurged on $200 character meals.
I say all that to say: it’s pretty doggone awesome when you are patient, keep cool, minimize your time in line, and have the outline of an effective and flexible plan. You can develop that plan over months, weeks, days, or at the last minute while looking at fast pass selections in the park. The experience is even better when you use credit card points and mikes to save as much as possible.
Someday I’ll stop just commenting on the blogs and make my own to deep dive how to hack Disney.
Also, yeah, magic kingdom parking lot is like in another zip code from the park itself.
And never stay on property unless it’s on poibts at a non disney resort.
Use the barclaycard and venture for Disney tickets and resort stays.
Get the app.
Don’t have must dos if you can’t fast pass them or the waits are long. We avoid things like else or the lane mine train rude abd enjoy the hundreds of other thibgs that have shirt lines. Well probably go back to disney someday so we don’t stress having to see a grown stranger dressed as a fake cartoon character.
Can you tell I type these on my phone between meetings?
Meant to say We avoid things like Elsa and the lame mine train. We found a way to get on that ride and it is pretty weak sauce. Good fir kids but do is barnstorm at 1/8 the wait.
@Cheapblackdad You are a trooper! We can all learn from your positive attitude. Respect!
This post is mostly humorous, with (hopefully) some nuggets of wisdom thrown in. I don’t mind Minnie and Mickey hats, to each his own.
Agree about the mine train, it was as you put it “weak sauce.” Love that expression BTW
Mostly, I hope people take things like heat etc. into consideration. My blog targets families on a budget, and as you know, Disney is crazy expensive, even on points. As always, I appreciate your insights. Keep commenting!