Travel Thursdays- How to do a quick trip to Disney World
Okay, I know what you're thinking- Disney is closed! Trust me, I am watching for updates almost hourly to know as soon as my favorite place on earth opens up! I need some magic pixie dust, fireworks and churros in my life like woah. But until we can again skip down Main Street, USA we will continue to blog and share all about all things Disney. Let's consider it cramming for a big test!
Last fall, my son, Ben and I snuck away for the most insane long weekend trip ever and I am just now fully recovered and decided to share how we made the most out of a quick trip. First of all, if you're new here there is something you need to know. Ben and I are OBSESSED with all things Disney World. Like we spend time in the car discussing all the possible what if questions like "What if you worked at Disney and had to pick just one ride to work at the entire time, which would it be?" (Just for reference, mine was Haunted Mansion and his was Tower of Terror. Tell me what your answer would be in the comments!)
Anyhow! Last fall my husband had to travel out of the country for work and I decided to surprise Ben and grab him and a couple of carry on bags and get away for a few days. I planned this entire trip about 6 days before we left which I don't recommend, but it worked out for us. About 3 days before we left, Florida was bracing for a hurricane which thankfully never hit. While it rained every day we were there we never got caught in the rain and it never lasted more than 10 minutes. However, this worked out really well for us because the threat of severe weather meant the parks were super empty. We are talking party level crowds during regular hours and at parties there was so few people that we felt like we had the place to ourselves. This in turn meant we did A LOT.
One more bit of information about our family and Disney. When we go, we go HARD. Like up early for all the magic hours and one of the last to leave at night. I knew that Ben would want to do the same thing so I planned an insane trip. By the time we got back on the plane Monday night I was so tired I almost cried. Totally worth it. I love that Ben is old enough now to hang out with and even take on these fun adventures!
Okay, so here is what we did. Are you ready for this?
We flew in on Thursday night after I picked him up from school and got to our hotel, Coronado Springs, at 1:00 AM. The next morning we were at The Magic Kingdom for Magic Hours at 8:00 and rode a ton of rides until lunch time when things started to get busy. (Also, I got Hopper tickets and always do for every day we go to the parks. They are worth the extra cost.)
We took a bus to Disney Springs (am I the only one who still calls is Downtown Disney?!) where we had lunch and did some shopping.
After this, we went back to our hotel to change and put on our costumes and headed to our first Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. If you've never done this, I HIGHLY recommend it. In fact, I think I might just need to create a blog post all about it!
We entered the Magic Kingdom at 4:00 for the party and you can see here that the regular crowds were super light. We literally walked onto Space Mountain right after this! I'm aware that this could have gone very badly for us with the chance of incoming weather, but it was perfect. We stayed at the party and even rode every single ride we wanted multiple times until closing. We made it back to our hotel at 12:45 A.M.
Next morning, Hollywood Studios had Magic Hours that started at 6:00 A.M. We were told that rope drop generally happened earlier than that and sure enough, we were in the park and riding rides before the 6:00 open time. Please note, that this meant that we were at the bus stop outside our resort at 5:00 A.M.- just a few hours after we had arrived home from the party the night before! While everyone made a mad dash for the new Star Wars land, we went and rode all of the Toy Story rides multiple times and then headed over to Tower of Terror and Rockin' Rollercoaster. Ben somehow convinced me to ride each of those 12 times back to back. Needless to say after over 20 rides before 9:00 (when the park opened for regular admission) I was a little sick. We took a break and had breakfast and lots of caffeine for me before heading to Animal Kingdom. That's right- we didn't even go over to the new Star Wars land! Neither of us are big fans and that was where the long lines were so we skipped it and I have no regrets.
This was taken at 10:00- long after the park was fully open and this just shows the crowds. It was basically empty!
We stayed at Animal Kingdom for the afternoon, and then headed to Epcot for dinner and Magic Hours that evening. Thankfully we made it back to our room a bit earlier that night- 10:30 p.m.! (I was about to collapse but Ben was a machine and no way was I calling it quits if he wasn't!)
6:00 A.M. at Hollywood Studios. No crowds!
Dinner at our favorite restaurant in Epcot- the Bier Garden!
Sunday morning I'd love to say we took it easy and slept in then hung by the pool, but nope! We were up for Magic Hours and then off to do some last minute shopping at Disney Springs again before heading to our final Mickey's Not Scary Halloween Party. Yep, that's right. We did 2 parties during a 4 day trip and it was SO WORTH IT!!!!
Monday morning we did go a little slower after averaging about 3 hours of sleep every night. We packed up and gave our luggage to the front desk before heading to Epcot for the day. And that's it! That's how we rode a massive amount of rides, did 2 parties and went to every park multiple times in just 3.5 days. Here are my top tips for making the most out of a fast trip.
1- Don't go in blind. Plan it out! I knew what time every park was open, when and where the Magic Hours were, what time the parties opened and when we could get into the party early. And don't rely on the Disney app. I took photos of all of the times and details because the app goes down frequently.
2- Use the special events and parties to your advantage. These tend to have lower crowns levels so you can ride more as well as a ton of special things like parades and fireworks and food that only happens at these events. Yes, they're an extra expense, but in our mind it was worth it.
3- If you are planning to go and go hard, make sure you travel with someone who can and will keep up. There is NO way I could have done this trip with a younger kid. The fact that Ben had to make me keep up several times is telling. I am usually a non-stop person and that kid put me to shame at times!
4- Decide what your game plan is for the parties BEFORE you go. Are you there to meet a ton of characters? Do you want to max out on rides? Are the special parades and fireworks a must do? Know what you want to accomplish, and accept that the answer cannot be "I want to do all of it!" Even with two MNSSHP's we never watched the fireworks or the parades. We were there for rides and that was ALL we did!
5- Do your research before you go. Even though I planned this in less than a week, I still spent a lot of time researching all of the tips and tricks from the pros. My absolute favorite place to get details on anything Disney is WDW Prepschool.
6- Work with a trusted travel agent. Knowing that you have someone helping you when you are planning a very expensive trip is huge. We always use the planners at Perfect Story Travel. I will not go on any trip without them even after all of the times we've gone to Disney! There are just too many things that need to happen to make a Disney trip magical and these travel agents are basically your Fairy Godmothers (or Godfathers but that sounds a little scary so...) Haha! Seriously though, contact them!
What are your best tips for planning a trip to Disney? Share them in the comments below!