Monday, May 3, 2010

Disney Tips

From the Costco Connection magazine comes an article called "Keeping The Magic", with insider tips for traveling to the Disney resorts. The tips come from Costco member and guidebook author Bob Sehlinger, who wrote The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and from Costco member and website founder Mary Waring, who runs the website.

Sehlinger suggests planning ahead as the main way to have a great trip. Don't go, he says, over the Fourth of July weekend, for example. Aparently, they've done research showing what the optimum path at a given park is, by analyzing traffic flow and creating an algorithm to find the best order to ride. His website is called Another of his hints include getting to the park at least 45 minutes before it opens so you can beat the crowds and get to the "bottleneck" attractions first, before the long lines form.

Waring suggests doing a lot of research, looking for coupons and discounted tickets using sources such as her website. She also suggests packing food like cereal, snacks, juice and water so that you can avoid pricey meals and long lines at food time. She also suggests sharing meals. Her other advice is to leave the parks after lunch and return to your hotel during the hottest part of the day. Use this time for visiting the pools or napping, then plan on going back late in the afternoon. Sehlinger seconds this advice.

Personally, I know that some of this would work for me, and some wouldn't. First, if you have a breakfast reservation, you aren't likely to get to the parks very much before they open. We found that if we got to them by 10 or 10:30 most mornings we were doing pretty good.

And with younger kids, we knew that we weren't going to be lasting much past 8 at night. Even at Epcot they would be complaining before the fireworks started and we missed Illuminations as much as we saw it. So if you're talking about taking several hours out of the middle of the day, you aren't talking about a lot of time in a park.

Also, we usually bring a car, but if we had to return to the hotel just to eat lunch, it would be a big chunk out of the middle of the day. And eating lunch in the parking lot doesn't sound fun at all!

These strategies might work for those "kamikaze" park visitors who have to see as much as humanly possible, but for many families, I think it's best to pace yourself, use Fastpasses, be content with spending some time at the less popular but still good attractions, and eat at the park. No one's going broke on the cost of kids' meals. I like the idea of splitting the adult meals because there really is too much for one person. That's why we have, in the past, spent all seven days of our vacation doing the Disney parks. It's a leisurely enough pace for us to see and do most of the things we have wanted to do, and if we don't get to do something today, there's always a shot at it at our second visit to that park.

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