One of the most memorable trips many families make is to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I am fortunate that I live within 90 miles of the park and visit frequently. We have been annual pass holders many times over the past decade. I have gone to Disney as a single college woman, as a young married couple, as a great big sister, as a teacher supervising a field trip, and as a mom. With those perspectives, I can offer some Smart Mom tips to make the most of your trip to the Walt Disney World.
• In the past few years, Walt Disney World has created the “fast pass.” This allows you to not wait in the long lines for certain rides. The most important thing to know about the fast pass is that you have to get one early in the day for the most popular rides. However, there are limits to how many fast passes you can get at one time. Some of the most popular rides you should try to get a fast pass for early in the day are:
o Soaring and Test Track in Epcot
o Splash Mountain and Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom (or any of the rides in Fantasy Land).
o Everest in Animal Kingdom.
o Rockin’ Roller Coaster in MGM.
• If you are staying in a resort, make sure you check out the Extra Magic Hours currently offered for resort guests (as of June 2007). Your reward for staying in a hotel is early hours in the morning or late hours in the evening at select parks. This is only available for resort guests, so there are limited amounts of people in the park (they make you wear a special arm band to get access). This is a great time to ride those popular rides that have long waits during normal hours.
• One of the most fun things to do during the warm months is to go to the water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Because they are not included on the regular multi-day passes, many people do not go. We have gone during the summer and have gotten a good location and have not been bothered with the crowds. If you have preschoolers, Blizzard Beach has a better kid’s area. It is enclosed with two exits, so it is easy to spot your child from most locations and you can monitor where they are without chasing them down.
• The Disney Marketplace is a great place for entertainment when you are not at a park. There is a Lego store, a McDonald’s, and tons of stores, restaurants, and shops. One of the most fun places In the Marketplace is Disney Quest. This would be a great alternative on a rainy day (although most people will have the same idea). It has 5 floors of interactive games and virtual reality rides that are included in the price of admission. It has an arcade too with free games and newer games that you do have to pay for. It is completely enclosed, so if you have older elementary children, you can let them roam and have fun.
• The most important tip about Walt Disney World is to try to avoid the summer, spring break, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. Everyone takes their vacations during those times. Not to mention, the summer time is just hot! Walt Disney World is built on a former swamp. The humidity in Florida is already bad and worse in WDW! The best times to go are the weekend AFTER Labor Day, October, January, and February.
Whatever you decide to do, you will have a memorable time at Walt Disney World! Don’t forget to take in the simple things, appreciate the hotels, and take naps so you can go all night (and keep it the "happiest place on earth!").
Rebekah Kogelschatz is a partner in Smart Moms - Smart Business, LLC. She is a co-founder of the site smartmoms-smartbusiness.com, a website dedicated to helping moms that want to work from home find work at home solutions. They also help moms that work from home find resources to be more efficient. You can visit her blog at the-day-of-a-mom.blogspot.com.
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