Oh No! I can only go when it is crowded!!

What do you do if you can only travel during the more crowded times of the year? Don’t fret, help is on the way.

First of all, you need to know the most crowded times of the year. Basically, if kids are on a break then WDW is crowded.

The busiest times are:

  • February over President’s Day Weekend
  • Spring Break season: Mid March through Easter
  • Easter: Date changes but week before and after are second most crowded of the year
  • Summer: Mid June-Early August
  • Columbus Day Weekend: Modest increase in crowds
  • Thanksgiving: Third busiest time of the year for the week
  • Christmas – New Years: Busiest time of the year from Christmas Day-New Year

Here are my tips for traveling during the busiest times of the year:

Lower your expectations: You can not expect to go to Magic Kingdom and ride everything on your list. Pick your top 3 priorities and know there will be time to do other things. By doing this you won’t be walking away disappointed and you will be pleasantly surprised when you get more accomplished.

Stay on Property: The convenience of staying on property outweighs the additional cost in this situation. The resort transportation will be more crowded than normal, but will not be as bad as driving your own car into the crazy parking lots, then taking a tram to the entrance or WDW transportation. This is especially important for Magic Kingdom because you park at the Ticketing and Transportation Center then take a monorail or ferry to the entrance of the park. By staying on resort property you also have the benefit of Extra Magic Hours (EMH).

Extra Magic Hours:  When staying on property you are given access to certain parks for 1 hour in the morning before it opens to the public and 2 hours in the evening after close. Taking advantage of this can greatly increase the amount of attractions you are able to see and do! I personally like to enjoy EMH mornings at one park and then leave when it gets crowded to go to a different park by park hopping. Alternatively, if you are a night owl the evening EMH might be up your alley. The evening EMH are much more crowded than the morning, but if you can stay until the end you will reap the benefits of extra ride time with little wait. If you are not staying on property, avoid the parks with EMH during your vacation.

Park Hop: The additional cost of the park hopper is the most beneficial during these times. You can go to one park until the crowds overwhelm you, then hop over to a less crowded park. Or you can head back to your hotel (especially when staying on property) and then hop to a different park in the evening.

Go to the parks EARLY: I know you are on vacation, but so is everyone else going to Disney. That being said, WAKE UP EARLY and be at the parks for rope drop (official opening) or soon after! Most people will not get themselves together and moving by 8am, but by 10am the parks will be crowded. No one goes to Disney for a relaxing, sleep in vacation. For example: Christmas Day at Magic Kingdom has been at capacity the last few years around 10:30am. You can walk right in at 7am, but you can’t even get past the gates at 10:30. What does this teach us (other than avoid MK on Christmas!)? Get to the parks early, you will thank yourself when you are walking out to take a swim at 11 and the entrance turnstiles are 20 deep!

Take a Mid Day Break: The parks are most crowded from 11am-4pm. Take a break back at the hotel for swimming and a nap. Or have lunch in a hotel near the park and do some hotel hopping to check out the different WDW resort hotels.

Make ALL your dining reservations: When going during a crowded time of year, you will not have a snowball’s chance of getting into the more popular restaurants without reservations far in advance. That being said, you can still get into table service restaurants. Choose less popular restaurants in the park or ones located in the resort hotels.  

Utilize the Fastpass system: This is the time when Fastpasses are your best friend. Decide your most important priority and get a fastpass at park opening for that ride. You can get your next fastpass 2 hours later, so at 9am if your fastpass return for Space Mountain is not until 2-3pm, you can get another fastpass at 11am for a different ride as well. With the new Fastpass+ system, you can prearrage your fastpasses (up to 3) which will be a huge benefit to staying on property during a crowded time.

I hope this advice helps and doesn’t scare you! I have traveled over Christmas with a group of 14 and I am going back at the same time this year. Take this advice and you will still enjoy your trip!

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Port Orleans Riverside: Royal Guest Rooms

This past vacation was the first time I was able to have a glimpse of the renovations done at Port Orleans Riverside. Last summer, we stayed at French Quarter and were very happy about the new rooms there. Riverside is my favorite moderate resort, so I was very excited to stay here once again. Originally, I was booked for a normal, no view double room. When I called to change a few things to our reservation (I added 2 more nights) I was upgraded to a Royal Guest Room with a garden view free of charge. I was pumped! Who doesn’t love get something extra for free! Continue reading

Mousekeeping & Tipping

I have written a previous article about the cast members at Disney. Now it is time to focus on the people who make your hotel room your home.

Mousekeeping is the term WDW uses for its housekeeping staff. These people work very hard every day to make sure you come back from the park to a clean room full of surprises. They are happy to leave extra towels, coffee, or shampoo if you ask. They set up the kids toys in a fun way to make coming back to the room magical. The mousekeeping staff deserves a tip and is allowed to take it. One way to make your mornings go more smoothly is to put your tips for each day into an envelope before you leave for your trip. Make enough envelopes for each day of your trip and write your little housekeeping thank you note on them. Continue reading

Port Orleans

We have stayed at both the Port Orleans Resorts in recent years and I have to say that they are my favorite Moderate resorts in WDW. The landscaping and theme of the resorts has a very rich and expensive feel like the Deluxe resorts. The counter and table services at both resorts serve great food. The entire resort has been undergoing refurbishment over the last few years. Most rooms have queen beds (versus double), flat screen TVs, and updated decor. The lobby of Riverside is close to finishing its remodel as well. Continue reading

Oh no…I don’t have dining reservations!

If you read my previous post about the importance of dining reservations and are now freaking out, don’t worry! There are wonderful restaurants throughout WDW that will have open tables for walk up customers. I would not recommend going without dining reservations, but I am anal retentive and like to have my schedule planned out! Do not expect to get into character meals, these are always booked and impossible to get in unless you have lucked out with a cancellation! Epcot is always a good choice because there are so many restaurants. Yacht Club & Boardwalk are walking distance from Epcot & a long walk or boating distance from Hollywood. Contemporary, Grand Floridan & Polynesian are on the monorail line, so you can head there from Magic Kingdom and Epcot very easily! You can always call the reservation line – (407) WDW- DINE or use your smart phone and book through the internet!

Restaurants where you can get a table with little or no wait: Continue reading

The Importance of Dining Reservations

If you are new to WDW, you will see all sorts of information on Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs). If character meals & where you eat are important to you then I would highly recommend doing your dining reservations as soon as you book your trip. You can book dining without being on property and even before you book your trip.

Here is how it works: Continue reading

Fun For Adults

Who says Walt Disney World is for kids?! I would love to go without mine just once…doubtful but maybe someday! Part of the fun of a Disney vacation is to see you child’s face when they see Mickey and ride the tea cups. But, we adults would like to have a little fun too. I did a day at Epcot in college with some friends and I have to say it was a blast!

There are so many adult oriented things to do at Disney this post could go on forever, so I will give you a sampling of some. Continue reading

Why would I do laundry on vacation?

I always do laundry at least once on a trip. Why would anyone want to do laundry on vacation? Aren’t you trying to get away from all that?

There are a few reasons…

  1. Less clothes = less luggage. With airlines charging for luggage these days, it is cheaper to pack less!
  2. Florida is hot and I do NOT like packing sweaty stinky clothes for the trip home!
  3. I do not have that many clothes & we all have a few favorites that we want to wear again.

In the resorts, laundry costs $2 a load to wash and $2 to dry. I bring quarters specifically for laundry day. I also pack detergent and dryer sheets, now a couple brands have little packs that you just throw into your load. I just wash everything together on cold. I plan for a midday break halfway into the trip to swim and relax. Usually, the laundry facilities are near the pool. We throw in a load, swim, take a break to switch, swim & get dry clothes on the way back to the room.

I think it is totally worth the effort because everyone is happy to wear their favorite princess shirt again. It also forces us to slow down and not try and cram more and more into each day of our trip.

Traveling around the Resort

Disney has a wonderful system for transporting guests easily and efficiently between the parks and resorts. This is one of the perks of staying on property. The transportation system makes it very convenient to park hop and go back to the hotel for a break during the day. Continue reading

Keeping the kids happy while waiting

Disney is a world of hurry up and wait. Rush through the morning to get to opening and wait at the turnstiles. Race to a ride then wait in line for 20 minutes. Head to the airport hours before your flight to learn that it is delayed. Walk to the bus stop and find your bus pulling away. The list goes on and on. Disney is a great lesson in patience for both children and adults!

I have a few tricks I use to keep the kids busy while waiting in line, for transportation or in a restaurant. Continue reading