- Allow 30-45 minutes to travel to the park, and enter the park no matter where you stay. Especially if you are there for the park opening. It is very busy, buses are crowded, and the turnstiles become clogged. It is best to err on the side of caution and be a little early. Trust me, the opening show is a lot of fun.
- Disney checks all bags before entering parks! To expedite the process, take as few bags as possible and make sure they are open before you get to the security guard. You can send the rest of your group through the "No bag entrance" while one goes through the check point. It really is every bag: camera bag, purse, backpack, grocery sack, diaper bag, etc. They will check it! Luckily, it doesn't take too long to check. They are pretty quick and friendly about the whole thing.
- Don't let wait times discourage you! Sometimes I have entered an attraction with a 30 or 45 minute wait time, and did not wait that long. They do time checks every so often, so it may not be accurate. However, you could wait the full time posted.
- If you have small children, use rider swap if the older kids or adults would like to ride an attraction. There are cast members waiting at the entrance to the rides that will hand you a rider swap ticket. It allows 3 people to enter the fastpass line after the one member of your party has waited in line. That way, the entire party can ride without having to wait twice in a 30 minute line.
- Fastpass! These are essential in avoiding long lines at popular attractions. You may only have one fastpass at a time per ticket so you have to plan accordingly, and each person who wants to ride must have a fastpass. My husband and I found a way to shorten the waits even more by combining fastpass and rider swap. We wanted to ride Splash Mountain, and he also wanted to ride Space Mountain. I grabbed a fastpass with my ticket, and he used his for a fastpass at Space Mountain. At Splash Mountain we asked for a rider swap since our daughter is not tall enough. That way one could use the fastpass, and the other used the rider swap to shorten the wait. Normally, the first person has to wait in the stand by line with a rider swap. Then he was able to head to Space Mountain and use his fastpass there to ride. If I had chosen to ride Space Mountain we could have done the same with the rider swap. Information about fastpass
The Magic Kingdom is my favorite park to start my vacation. It is what people picture when they hear Disney World. It is not just for kids! It has many things for kids and adults. I do recommend taking a bit of extra time to get to MK if you are driving there. When driving, you don't actually park at the MK. You park at a place called the Ticket and Transportation Center. You will have to ride the monorail or the ferry to the park entrance. Both can have long lines first thing in the morning. If you are using Disney buses, they will take you straight to the MK entrance. The Shades of Green bus also takes you to the Ticket and Transportation Center.
Next, Magic Hours. I try to take advantage of these as often as I can. Especially at the Magic Kingdom. You can get an hour early if you are staying at one of the Disney resorts. Only certain areas or attractions are open, but it does help to knock a few things out before the park becomes very crowded. For morning magic hours, Tomorrowland and Fantasyland are open. Unfortunately, not every attraction in those lands are open. Usually it is the most popular rides that are open. It still helps to get a jump start on your day. There are also evening magic hours which allows the park to stay open up to 3 hours later than normal. For MK, some attractions in Adventureland and Frontierland are open as well as the most popular attractions in Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. Here is a link to the attractions open during magic hours: Magic Hours Attractions.
You can use parade and show times to try to ride the more popular rides. The crowds tend to thin out on the attractions. Also, you don't want to miss the fireworks show at the end of the night. The best viewing is from Main Street or Frontierland. I have watched from Fantasyland, and I did not enjoy it. If you are interested in just seeing the large fireworks, it is a great spot. Although, you are at the back of the park so then you have to fight your way to the front to get out of the park.
If you have small kids, I find it is best to start at Fantasyland since they can ride everything there. Definitely try to go on Peter Pan's Flight as soon as possible. That line is always long by mid morning. With older kids, or adults, I would hit the mountains first or at least fastpass them right away. They tend to have long lines. I try to save the sit down/air conditioned rides for later in the day. It helps beat the heat and humidity of central Florida.
Hollywood Studios is a pretty small park, and I don't spend much time there. I would recommend riding Toy Story Mania as soon as possible or grabbing a fastpass as soon as you can. It can be a long wait, and fastpasses go quickly. Rock N Roller Coaster is also very popular. It can have a long wait time, but again you can fastpass it or ride it as soon as you get there. Or you can take advantage of the single rider line. If you don't mind riding with strangers, it will help you get through the line faster.
Fantasmic! can be found at this park. It is an awesome show, but you do have to start waiting for it early. I think I have started waiting an hour to an hour and a half before the start time. It is worth the wait, but if you do want to see it plan accordingly. Lines don't tend to be terrible at this park since they have a lot of shows. I would say Tower of Terror is another that can have a long line. The shows are pretty fun to catch. My car loving husband really enjoys the stunt show.
This is a huge park! You can spend all day there. They do close earlier than others since they have to move animals off the land. If you can, ride Kilimanjaro Safari first thing. The animals are usually more active since it isn't as hot. Expedition Everest is a great ride, but is one with a wait. They do have fastpass service, and single rider line. That does help shorten your wait. They have a few shows, the Lion King and Finding Nemo, that are fun and very impressive. Kids will love them! They do have an area called Dino Land that is centered around the smaller children. There is a playground that allows children get rid of energy. My daughter had a blast. She and I played while my husband rode Expedition Everest. It was win-win! This park is more than just a zoo. However it is huge so I would decide the day before what your must do's are.
Epcot is divided into two areas: Future World and World Showcase. Future World is where you will find the large thrill rides, and World Showcase is where you will find the pavilions for the different countries.
Future World-This is home to the famous Mission Space, Test Track, and Soarin'. Test Track and Soarin' typically have long lines. Test Track does have a single rider line. (Mission Space may have one as well. I can't remember right now.) Spaceship Earth, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and Ellen's Energy Adventure are pretty short lines. Innoventions is a great place to let your kids out of the stroller and run inside an air conditioned building. Also, the Seas is a great place to let them stretch their legs (and inside!) Another fun air conditioned activity is the character spot. You can meet Mickey and his friends all at once without sweating your butt off. This is fun for kids and adults. (Yes, I have waited in this line when my husband I went before we had a kid.)
World Showcase-I love this land. It is neat to see all the different cultures and try the food. This also the only place where you can drink in a park. I have heard about a certain "Drink Around the World" game. You can start in Mexico and drink until Canada. I have never played it, but I hear it is quite fun. There are a ton of great restaurants and quick service places here. It is awesome. Also, Illuminations takes place at night at World Showcase. It is a great show, and the best part is you don't have to really stake your spot to see it. You can usually walk along and watch it. You won't always have the best view, but you can still see it.
Those are all the tips I have for now. Of course, this is not a complete list. I know I didn't touch on everything, but hopefully it gives you a general idea of what goes on at each park. Again, it all depends on when you go what your wait times will be like. I hope this helped!