Walt Disney World – Perfect Day at Magic Kingdom

RM-Magic-Kingdom-SelfieSo many touring styles!  Park-hopping, rope-dropping, FastPass-choosing, where to start, where to eat, when to leave, where to sit for optimum parade-viewing.  Get the idea?  Everyone has an opinion on how to best enjoy Disney World’s Magic Kingdom…including me!  (You’re shocked, I know.).  I’m not here to give you advice (unusual, right?) and you should know (if you don’t already) that I’m currently in a life-stage that does not involve vacationing with children.  So, keep in mind that my perfect touring plan for Magic Kingdom is heavy on the classics and light on the kiddie attractions.

To ensure I get the most out of my Magic Kingdom day, I’m planning where and when I’m going to eat dinner in advance and I’m booking an ADR (Advance Dining Reservation) 180 days before my vacation.  Being me (I’m picky about where I eat dinner), I’m not actually eating a table service meal in Magic Kingdom, but will be leaving at the appropriate time for someplace like Raglan Road in Downtown Disney/Disney Springs or one of the fabulous restaurants in the monorail resorts.  ‘Ohana or Kona Café at the Polynesian Village Resort would be good choices since unlike California Grill at the Contemporary or Citricos at the Grand Floridian, I’d feel fine arriving in my park-touring attire.RM-Kona-Menu

I’m also selecting my FastPasses as early as I’m allowed (usually 60 days out).  I’ll choose FastPasses starting very late in the morning and during the afternoon (before or after the Festival of Fantasy Parade at 3:00) OR later in the evening (depending on my dinner plans).  RM-7DMT-Train2I’ll try to book Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (otherwise, standby wait times are typically high enough to ruin my plans), Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain (because my goal is to ride it as many times as I can).  Alternate FastPasses (if my favorites are unavailable at decent times) would be Peter Pan (I know what I said about kiddie rides, but this one’s cool!  Don’t judge), Jungle Cruise (I really hate the queue, but love the ride), Splash Mountain (depending on the time of the year – I don’t like to be cold and wet), or maybe Haunted Mansion (I don’t mind the queue, but it is a pretty hot wait in the summer).

If all the planets align and my planning works out as described, my perfect Magic Kingdom Day would be…drum roll, please…Magic Kingdom Entrance in October

I’ll arrive 30 minutes before park opening (a.k.a. Rope-Drop) to watch the opening show  (which I love beyond description).  I’ll take pictures (mostly selfies) while waiting, then some of the show before heading into the park and straight toward Frontierland.  My objective is to ride Splash Mountain then Big Thunder Mountain first.Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain RM-Liberty-Belle-View-BTMRR If the lines aren’t long yet, I’ll ride one or both again.  While I’m in Frontierland, I’ll visit the Country Bears in Grizzly Hall (I like them, deal with it.) RM-Country-Bear-Musical-Numberand then I’ll check the wait time for Haunted Mansion and ride it next (if the wait is less than 30 minutes).  I’ve been known at this point to squeeze in the Hall of Presidents if it’s warm out because I can cool off AND listen to Morgan Freeman (win/win). RM-Hall-of-Presidents Again, I’m checking wait times.  If I have a pre-noon FastPass booked, I’ll wait until it’s almost expired and do that last before lunch.  For today, let’s say I do and it’s Jungle Cruise.  If I have no late-morning FastPass, I’ll try to squeeze in Pirates of the Caribbean (I don’t mind waiting since it’s indoors) OR Mickey’s PhilharMagic.

I know at this point I’ll be hungry and I’ll want to eat at Columbia Harbor House.  It’s my perfect day and, call me crazy, it’s going to include a tuna sandwich (no, it’s not just a tuna sandwich, it’s the best one in the World!).  RM-Columbia-Harbor-House-Tuna-SandwichPost-lunch, I’ll have time for at least one ride, probably with a FastPass, before I’m looking for dessert and a good seat for the Festival of Fantasy Parade.  If I’m really lucky, I’ll have time for two attractions, so let’s say I use my FastPass for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and then catch Mickey’s PhilharMagic (if I didn’t see it in the morning) OR I’ll hit Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin or maybe Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.

Festival of Fantasy is the best parade I’ve ever seen and I want to watch it again and again.  I’ll grab my snack (a churro or ice cream cone, hopefully) to eat while waiting for the parade to start.  Festival of Fantasy Parade Ostrich Ariel in Festival of Fantasy RM-Festival-of-Fantasy-Maleficent-2015So exciting, Festival of Fantasy is packed with Disney magic, favorite characters, and awesome details.  I like sitting on the Tomorrowland side of the hub OR at the end of Main Street U.S.A. in front of the train station.  I only use that second choice if I’m leaving for dinner right after the parade.  So, let’s pretend I’ll be watching the parade near Tomorrowland.  Again, if I’ve worked this right, I’ve got a Space Mountain FastPass I can head for right after the parade passes by.  After Space Mountain, I’ll see Carousel of Progress and ride the PeopleMover.  PeopleMover wins if I don’t have time for both.RM-Space-Mountain-Sign

At this point, I’ve used all my FastPasses (most likely), but that’s great.  I’ll leave the park around 5:00 pm and I won’t make it back until nearly 9:00 pm.  If my Dinner ADR is at 6-ish and I don’t want to eat and run, that’s the sacrifice I’ll have to make for a nice meal.  When I get back to the park, I’ll grab the first decent spot I can snag that will let me see both Wishes and the Main Street Electrical Parade.  RM-HalloWishesI’ll have a full belly, so sitting on the curb in Main Street will be just fine with me.  Once the Electrical Parade passes by, I’ll be ready to call it a day.RM-Main-Street-Electrical-Parade-Dragon

No, I didn’t see and do everything I could have, but that’s okay with me.  I’ll have plenty of time on a future visit and someday, If I’m really fortunate, with a grandchild (or two or three).  In the past, my idea of the perfect Magic Kingdom day looked a lot different, as I’m sure it will in the future.  But for now?  This is what I like to do.  It’s the way I love Magic Kingdom most and, in my lifelong, ever-changing love for Disney World (the place that makes me happy at every age), keeps me coming back as often as I can.

How about you?  What are your must-dos?  What FastPasses will you choose and where will you eat on your perfect day in Magic Kingdom?  How has your touring style changed over the years?


Today’s the Day! Disney Plan-a-Palooza!

Parkhopper PassWow!  It’s like the perfect storm of Disney vacation planning.  Today (a bit later than this post will run) we’ll be making some critical, major, life and death (okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration) decisions that will have a major impact on our Disney-ness for the next year!

Today’s the day our 60 day FastPass+ booking window opens – not gonna lie, it’s stressing me out a bit, but I’ll be okay.  My plan is to hit morning Extra Magic Hours each day they’re available (I know!  Some of you guys swear they’re not worth the trouble of getting up early, but we’re still doing it) then hop to a second park later in the day when the standby lines are too long at the original park, using our precious (measly) three FastPasses at the second park.  I will let you know tomorrow how this FastPass selection scheme works for me and if I score the exact FastPasses I’m after.

The real kicker is that TODAY is also the day we can book the Summer 2015 Disney cruise we Disney Cruise Line Siteintend to take.  Finally after years and years, we’ve reached the GOLD level of Castaway Club (Disney’s “frequent sailing” rewards program) so we can book a day ahead of the general public.  Since Disney Cruise Line just announced YESTERDAY their 2015 summer cruise itineraries, I’ve scrambled around, texting The Fam, combing the internet and trying to figure out exactly what we want.  I believe, unless the sale of a kidney will be involved to finance the trip, we’ve decided on one of the Norwegian Fjord cruises sailing from Copenhagen, Denmark in June.  The Baltic cruises were initially what we thought we wanted, but now we’re nervous about booking a vacation with Russia on the itinerary.  What do you think?

Last bit before I go get busy with the bookings – A cautionary tale for you if you’ve got an upcoming trip to Walt Disney World.  We thought we had it all under control with downloading the My Disney Experience app and linking The Fam – we had no problem whatsoever making our Exchange Certificate for Disney Annual PassADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) at the 180 day mark.  The problems started when we bought tickets.  Raymond ordered two annual passes (the two of us are going back to the World in October, AP’s were the most economical choice for us) and 6-day park-hopper passes for Megan and Joseph.  Easy-peasy, right?  Yeah….no.  Due to the daily purchase limit on a debit card, Raymond knew to order the tickets in two separate purchases on two different days.  No problems with that.  Mail comes Saturday and Raymond’s AP is there (in the form of a card called an “Exchange Certificate”).  We try to link it to Raymond’s Disney account and……nope.  Already linked to someone else (which is actually also Raymond, but he can’t access the ticket).  So, I spent an hour on Sunday morning with the Disney IT support line getting it all straightened out.  Or did I?

Monday in the mail – my “Exchange Certificate” and Megan’s park-hopper arrive…what?  IMG_2531Joseph’s ticket is no where to be found.  It required two more calls to the IT line and one call to the ticket line to resolve the situation.  That’s 4 calls in 3 days in case you lost count.  Especially weird was that on Sunday after I got off the phone with IT support, Raymond’s ticket was clearly attached to his account, but by Monday had disappeared again.  Now, every single person we spoke with was delightful and mostly quite helpful (except for Raymond’s vanishing ticket) – our confidence in the “system” is now a tad tarnished and I think understandably so.

Okay then, off I go!  FastPass selecting and cruise booking!  Keep your fingers crossed, please.  Tomorrow I’ll share the grand plan for May’s trip, so get your critique hat out and dusted off – I’ll be wanting your feedback!  I’ll let you know if the Fjords of Norway are in our future as well.  Wish me luck!