Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World--must have weapon
Oct 12, 2000 (Updated Nov 26, 2006)
The Bottom Line Either get the Unofficial Guide To Disney or get a scooter. If you do the former, wear very comfy shoes!
First of all, I love Disney World (Disneyland, too). You don't need to have kids to go there (though that would be fun, too.) In fact, I went with 2 other adult women and we had a terrific time. That said, here's what we learned.
There is a great book called the "The Unofficial Guide To Walt Disney World." The link to it on Amazon is:
It is not written by Disney, so it is ostensibly objective. We used it and found it terrific to avoid the lines.
Let me say that when I went to Disney World, it was a few years ago and was the week before Christmas break, so it was crazy crowed there. What this book does is figure out the traffic patterns and then helps you "beat the crowds."
The basic philosophy is that if people go to an exhibit, their inclination is to exit and then go to the exhibit next door, and so on, working their way around the park. This creates the big lines.
By checking start times/show lengths of all the exhibits, and using the "go to the exhibit next door" assumption, this book figures out where the herd goes, and therefore where you should not go.
We saw lines everywhere, yet we rarely waited in any, following the book.
There is a catch--the way they have you avoid the lines is by doing a ton more walking back and forth all over the park because, in essence, you go where the others don't. But hey, if you walk more, you can eat that much more cotton candy and fries.
If you are with small kids or seniors, this book's philosophy won't work for you. (Note: if you are with seniors, and they rent electric scooters, it might be ok to follow the book. On a subsequent trip, we rented from Scootaround (they have a website and an 800# and will deliver to a Disney property hotel. You can take them onto the Disney property shuttle busses, and, the best part, you get to go to the front of the line if you've got scooters in your party...so I guess you don't necessarily need this book if you have a scooter. Another option to consider if you have someone senior or pregnant in your party and can get the scooters--about $200 for the week and well worth it.)
We did feel exhausted and delirious at the end of the day (Go at night to Pleasure Island? What are you nuts? We were too tired. Plus we weren't big party-types anyway.)
We did create our own nighttime ritual. Back at the hotel, we opened up some wine, filled the tub with hot water and sat on the edge with our feet over the side in the water. This ritual was not only lovely (though amusingly cramped with three of us sitting on one side of a tub) but became essential to the survival of our tootsies. Frankly, our little survival ritual should have been in the book.
There are advantages to staying in Disney properties, too. We stayed at Dixielandings (now called "Port Orleans"??) The hotel is a Disney property but is not on the monorail, and is therefore a lot cheaper. You need to take a Disney shuttle bus to the park for free. The real on-campus hotel rooms were way too expensive for us).
Staying at a Disney property gave us special perks--like on Tuesdays, for example, the Magic Kingdom would open an hour early for Disney Property guests only. So you would get there, stand by the rope with the other Disney property guests, and when they dropped the rope to open the park (and by the way, you start at an inner point within the park, not at the main entrance), it was like the NYC Marathon, with everyone running to their favorite ride to beat out the line. Grown adults, running like their life depended on it to get to that ride first.
I must confess, we ran, too, to get to Space Mountain, but it was hard to run because we were laughing so hard at the ridiculousness of the situation.
But we didn't have to wait in line...