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The Worst Disney Advice You Should Never Follow

You know what they say about people and opinions? Somehow that’s even more true when it comes to planning a trip to Disney World. There is no shortage of Disney World advice out there, the problem is that so much of it is very, very wrong.

Here is some of the WORST Disney advice I’ve ever heard, that you should never, ever follow!

Worst Disney Advice

Disney World is just for kids

People! Just no.

I’ll tell you who Disney World is for: people who like Disney World!

That includes a lot of children (but not all) and a lot of adults (but not all).

Disney World advice

Some of my fondest Disney memories are trips I did with only adults. One was a trip my siblings, father, and uncle and I took after my mother passed away. We figured a visit to the happiest place on earth was in store to distract us from our grief, and it actually did.

Another was the trip my husband and I took for our 5 year wedding anniversary. We already had 3 kids by that point, but decided to go just the two of us. It was a very different kind of trip than when we’ve brought the kids, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

That was the only trip that we were able to make it all the way around World Showcase, including stopping to watch all the country movies and enjoy a Gray Goose slush in France.

Disney World advice

There are lots of unique Disney experiences geared specifically at adults, including fine dining locations such as:

  • California Grill (Disney’s Contemporary Resort)
  • Le Cellier (Canada Pavilion at Epcot)
  • Narcoosee’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort)
  • Jiko (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge)
  • Victoria and Albert’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort)

Just to name a few!

There are also VIP tours that are for adults only, including the popular Keys to the Kingdom Tour.

Yes, Disney is fantastic at catering to kids. But if you are jonesing for an adults-only trip, by all means GO FOR IT!

Animal Kingdom is just a zoo

Here is another one that grinds my gears.

Animal Kingdom is a theme park that mainly revolves around animals, but it is not at all comparable to your local zoo.

One of the most mind-blowing, technologically advanced rides anywhere in the world is found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It is called Flight of Passage and you can find it in the Pandora section, an elaborately themed land from the movie Avatar. (Note: there are no animals found in that entire land. Because Animal Kingdom is not a zoo!)

The animal experiences at Animal Kingdom (Kilimanjaro Safaris, Maharajah Jungle Trek) are very well done and worth doing. You feel like you’re on a real African safari and get to view animals in a natural habitat, not in cages. They are better than what you’d find at a zoo, and they are only a small part of the park.

The rest of Animal Kingdom is like all of WDW: immersive, full of details evoking all the senses, unique dining experiences, characters, rides, etc. There are also some spectacular shows, our favorite being the Festival of the Lion King which is interactive with the audience and tells a story with amazing acrobatics.

Be spontaneous with your dinners

This could be decent advice if you are only looking to do quick service dining. But if you want to enjoy some more relaxing sit down dinners, it is truly some BAD Disney advice.

Dining is a huge part of the Disney experience, whether you’re talking about character meals or adults-only signature restaurants. Many restaurants book COMPLETELY as soon as the 180 day booking window opens! You want to plan your reservations as soon as possible or risk not getting any (or not getting what you want). 

Do not wait to book your Disney dining reservations

Yes, it’s a drag to have to plan your meals 6 months in advance and it would be more fun if it could be spontaneous. You can certainly check the app on the day of just to see if anything opens up, because of course people’s plans change. Just do not count on that method if you really want to book certain meals. Play it safe and book 180 days out.

Don’t use Fastpass for lines that are fun

This advice is well-meaning and usually comes from Disney fans. But I’m as much of a fan as they come, and I have to say this is some bad Disney advice.

Disney is brilliant and they have done as much as possible to make waiting in long lines less miserable. (See my post about beating Disney crowds if you hate lines as much as I do!) So they have added some entertaining elements to the longest queues to help people get through them. Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Winnie the Pooh all have some fun things to do and see while you wait.

Does this mean it’s worth it to wait an hour or more in line? That answer is simple: NOPE.

Long lines are never fun, even with a few pieces of entertainment thrown in. Even with the PLAY app to pass the time, I’d still rather be elsewhere in WDW doing more instead of being stuck in a line. 

The best ways to bypass those long lines? Take your trip when it’s a slow time of year, go to the parks when it’s a slow time of day, and make the most of your Fastpass selections!

The ONLY exception to this (in my opinion) would be Dumbo. I never Fastpass Dumbo, because the wait is not a line. Instead they give you a pager like one you’d get while waiting for dinner in a restaurant. You then sit in the air conditioning and rest your feet while the kids play in a Dumbo-themed play area. It is a total win all-around and not at all like waiting in a typical line.

Dumbo queue play area

You need to do as much as possible to get your money’s worth

This is a great way to ruin a good vacation.

First of all, wrong mindset. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen a grown adult have a tantrum in response to a tired or scared child saying “Do you know how much I paid for this vacation?” or something similar. If you can’t afford a trip, don’t take the trip. It’s a horrible idea to pay too much for a trip and then try to force your money’s worth out of it.

Secondly, trying to do it all is what ends up making the trip a bad experience. No one will enjoy a trip when you are sleep deprived and forced to stay in the parks from open to close! That doesn’t make it more fun or more “valuable”, that just makes it miserable.

Some of the most fun Disney days are when you cut your park time short and go hang by the pool. Or when you decide to rest in the room and you all end up in bed watching Disney movies together. It doesn’t have to be go go go all the time to be a fun vacation, it just needs to be time spent together with room for magic to happen.

Kids don’t like Epcot

While Epcot is probably the most adult-friendly of all the parks, that doesn’t mean it isn’t for kids.

In fact on one of my trips with kids, my then-5 year old declared Epcot his favorite park. Test Track was his favorite ride in all of WDW and he had a blast playing the Phinneas and Ferb hunt through World Showcase (Agent P). He would also pay the price of admission just to spend an hour mixing sodas at Club Cool.

happy kid at Epcot
Here is one happy kid who NEVER wants to skip Epcot

Future World is full of fun rides and experiences for kids, and World Showcase is so different from the rest of WDW that it makes for a great change of pace for the kids too. Sure, they probably won’t appreciate Impression de France or watching their parents drink around the world, but if you make it about the kids there is tons for them to enjoy. Kidcot stops, exploring the pavilions, trying new foods from different countries, and meeting characters are some of the things kids love at Epcot.

If you go at a slow time of year, you don’t need Fastpass

This is not just bad advice, it also makes no sense. Fastpass is free and included with your ticket, why in the world would you NOT make use of it?

While I highly recommend traveling at slow times of year (January, February, September), it’s important to know that there is no time of year when there aren’t lines at WDW. Low crowds make it easier to fit more attractions in as lines are overall shorter, but the most popular attractions have long lines 365 days a year. Fastpass is your friend ALWAYS.

Don’t bother bringing a baby or toddler to Disney, they won’t remember it

Maybe they won’t, but YOU will! Taking little ones to Disney is peak magic.

Toddler at Disney

There is nothing like seeing a two year old’s face light up when she meets her favorite character! And when they get older they will love seeing the photos. You can keep memories alive by telling stories and showing photos too.

The only time I agree with this advice is if you KNOW this will be your child’s one and only trip to Disney World. If that’s the case, I think there are better times to go (ages 5-9 would probably be my favorite). Old enough to have some stamina, but young enough to still be a true believer.

But if you have an opportunity to take a trip when your child is a toddler, and you’re up for the challenge, it can be very well worth your effort. Here are some tips for doing Disney with a toddler and the best Disney attractions to do with preschoolers.

What is the worst Disney advice you’ve heard?

I know there is more bad advice out there! Share in the comments and let’s see if we agree.

 

Doing Disney While Pregnant? What You Need To Know

Are you thinking about doing Disney while pregnant? Whether being pregnant at Disney was an unexpected plot twist or a planned decision, many women are nervous how pregnancy will affect their trip to the most Magical Place on Earth. But fear not- a trip to Disney World can be as magical as ever even if you’re expecting!

Let’s go over some of the major do’s and don’ts of tackling Disney during pregnancy, and then get to the all important question: Can I still go on rides?

Doing Disney While Pregnant

Top Tips For Doing Disney While Pregnant

Avoid Heat

Try to plan your travel between the months of October and April if at all possible. May to September can range from pleasantly warm to unbearably hot, and many women are bothered by the heat even more than usual during pregnancy.

If your trip has already been planned and it’s during the sweltering summer months, make sure to go prepared. I always recommend bringing these Misting Fans everywhere you go. It really does help you stay comfortable!

Other ways to avoid getting overheated:

-use a Cooling Neck Towel

-go back to your hotel room or to the hotel pool during the hottest time of day (noon to 3pm or so). This works especially well if you have a toddler who needs to nap then anyway.

-spend some time at one of the water parks

-plan frequent stops inside air conditioning (Enchanted Tales with Belle, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Carousel of Progress, or inside any shops or restaurants).

Stay on top of hunger and thirst

Doing Disney While Pregnant

Photo credit: Simplybessy.com

No matter the weather, be sure you stay hydrated and keep your blood sugar up. These are easy to overlook when you are going from attraction to attraction, but when you’re pregnant you don’t want to compromise your health in any way.

To stay hydrated: Stick some water bottles in the freezer the night before you head to the parks. Then put a couple in an insulated cooler bag inside your park bag. As they melt throughout the day you’ll have some nice refreshing water without even having to get out of line or make an extra stop.

You can also stop in at any quick service food location in the parks and they will give you a cup of tap water free of charge.

Once you feel thirsty, dehydration is already kicking in. So stay ahead of it by planning your water breaks. Come up with a set interval that you’re going to take a water break. Every time you change “lands”, or every 3-4 attractions might be an appropriate interval. Or you can set a reminder on your phone to go off every hour reminding you to drink up.

Similarly, be planful about your meals and snacks. Of course there are tons of tempting sweet treats on every corner of Walt Disney World, and it’s fine to indulge here and there. But you’ll also want to make sure you are packing or buying nutritious snacks like nuts and fruit to refuel your body.

Minimize Walking

Doing Disney While Pregnant

Jodi of Tips From The Disney Diva did Disney while pregnant with TWINS!

I always recommend hitting the Disney parks with a plan, such as planning to avoid crowds, making the best fastpass selections, and saving money on your Disney trip.

When you visit Disney World pregnant, you should also make a plan to minimize walking.

WDW Info estimates that an average day at the parks involves 10 to 12 miles of walking! That is a lot more than most of us are used to doing. And if you’re suffering from common pregnancy ailments such as back pain, sore feet, and fatigue, it will be even more difficult.

Take it one “land” at a time

Make sure to plan your day to avoid criss-crossing the park to get to Fastpass and dining reservations. I recommend taking it one “land” at at time and covering what you want in that land entirely before moving on to the next. Personally, at Magic Kingdom I like to start in Fantasyland and then continue on clockwise and end in Frontierland, but you can tackle it any way you like.

Take frequent breaks

Find a comfortable bench to sit out any rides that you can’t go on with your group (more on that later). Take that time to grab your water and snack while you wait and give your feet some rest.

Again, you may want to follow this touring schedule: parks in the morning, break at your hotel during the afternoon, and then you can choose to return (or not, depending on how you feel) in the evening.

Consider a wheelchair if necessary

Doing Disney While Pregnant

Photo Credit: www.amotheradventure.com, craftedfromthekingdom.com

No shame in the pregnant mama hitching a ride in a wheelchair! If you are in too much pain to walk and don’t want to miss out on the family memories, renting a wheelchair might be a good option to keep you in the action.

You can rent a wheelchair through Disney for $12 per day, or upgrade for a motorized ECV (Electric Conveyence Vehicle) through outside companies that work with Disney. More info on wheelchair and ECV rentals here.

What Can I Ride At Disney While Pregnant?

The short answer is: LOTS!

Ultimately the decision is yours, but for a normal pregnancy you are safe to ride anything that doesn’t have a height restriction. Rides without a height restriction mean that even babies can ride, so it is a very tame ride and should pose minimal risk to your unborn child.

The rides you want to avoid are marked with an Expectant Mother Advisory on the sign. They are mostly thrill rides that require a tight harness or safety bar. Another type of ride you want to avoid are ones that jerk/bounce you around a lot, such as Tomorrowland Speedway or Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Doing Disney While Pregnant
Look for the Expectant Mother Advisory on the sign for each ride to be sure

Here are all the rides in WDW you will want to AVOID while pregnant (by park):

Magic Kingdom

Barnstomer

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Space Mountain

Splash Mountain

Tomorrowland Speedway

Epcot

Mission: Space

Test Track

Hollywood Studios

Rock N Roller Coaster

Slinky Dog Dash

Star Tours

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Animal Kingdom

Avatar Flight of Passage

DINOSAUR

Expedition Everest

Kilimanjaro Safari

Primeval Whirl

If you’re feeling sad about many of your favorite rides being on the “do not ride” list, keep in mind there are many more rides that AREN’T on this list than ARE.

And, in addition to rides without the Expectant Mother Advisory, you can of course enjoy all the non-ride attractions like shows, parades, street performances, nighttime spectaculars, and areas to explore like Tom Sawyer Island and the countries of the World Showcase.

Of course dining experiences and meeting characters are often the highlight of a Disney vacation, and those can certainly be enjoyed while pregnant.

Doing Disney while pregnant

 

Sami enjoys the China pavilion in World Showcase; Megan pals around with characters.

What other questions do you have about doing Disney while pregnant?

Leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to answer!

How To Save Thousands on Trips to Disney World

If you’re planning a family trip and want to know how to save on Disney World, this is for you!

One question I get asked all the time when people hear I visit Disney World every year is, “how do you afford it?”

Yes, traveling to Disney World can be an enormous expense, especially when you don’t live within driving distance (we don’t) and you have a large family (we do!). A big family vacation including flights, hotel, tickets, and food could EASILY add up to $10,000 or more.

As much as I love Disney, I would NEVER pay that much for one trip there- not even close. So here I am to give away all my secrets of how I save on Disney World trips year after year!

(Don’t forget to bookmark or pin this post so you can refer back as you continue to plan your trip!)

How to save on Disney World

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click one of the product links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Plan Your Trip For the Off Season

This is my number one tip for all aspects of Disney trip planning! In addition to crowds being much lower, hotel rates and ticket prices are less too.

In fact Disney itself refers to off-peak times as “value season” because their prices are adjusted accordingly!

You’ll notice the busy seasons all include times when kids are out of school. It is worth it to at least consider taking your kids out of school in order to enjoy a less expensive, less crowded vacation.

Or, take advantage of any time your child’s school has days off that the rest of the country doesn’t get. Random teacher work days or bonus breaks that are specific to your area work great.

Seasons to avoid:

  • June to mid-August
  • Christmas week to New Year’s week
  • Easter week
  • Spring break
  • Thanksgiving week

Great off-peak times to visit:

  • September (actually late August to early October, but September is the best)
  • first half of November
  • January-February
  • end of April – first week of May

Read this post for more about off-peak seasons and managing crowds.

Book Flights On Points

I absolutely love to travel, and I love it even more when I don’t have to pay for flights.

And with a family of 6, paying for flights would be a total budget-breaker.

Luckily, thanks to lots of research and good credit, I have been able to leverage credit card sign on bonuses to avoid paying list price for any of my flights in the last ten years.

The one I love the most is Southwest Rapid Reward Credit Card because they always have sign on bonuses of 40,000 to 60,000 points, which covers three of our round trip flights to Orlando. (And with companion pass, my companion flies free so that means four of us are covered.)

It is intimidating at first to do the whole credit card points game, but once I started and saw how easy it was I quickly grew to love it.

And since I always pay off all my balances in full each month, I maintained my excellent credit score. No, opening new credit cards does not adversely affect your credit!

How to save on Disney World
Such a happy day when I got this!

Check out this post for more details on how to fly for practically nothing, including the best travel perk around: Southwest Companion Pass, which I’ve been using for two years now due to two credit card sign on bonuses.

Rent DVC Points

This is another huge, huge money saver if you read up and delve into it.

In fact, it is the best kept secret for staying at a Deluxe Disney resort for the price of a Value.

Here is how it works. Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members get points on an annual basis to use for their Disney stays (think of a timeshare). If they can’t or don’t want to use them, they can rent them to others for a fee. A service like David’s Vacation Club Rentals acts as the broker for these transactions. The points allow you to stay at Deluxe Disney resorts at heavily discounted rates compared to booking through Disney directly.

Another major perk of booking on DVC points is that there are many suites and villas available to accommodate larger families. (I love staying in a unit with a kitchen so we can save on meals too!)

Want to see how much you can save by renting DVC points? Let’s take a real life example.

The Connors family of 5 wants to go to Disney the first week in October. The first thing they do is check the Disney site for rack rates.

Rack Rates

  • Disney’s All Star Music Resort (a value resort) is the cheapest option at $313/night or $2,191 total
  • Disney’s Art of Animation suites, a value plus resort, costs $414/night or $2,898
  • The Cabins at Fort Wilderness are the only moderate that can fit you all, at $394/night or $2,758
  • A one-bedroom villa at Bay Lake Tower (Contemporary resort) is a deluxe option on the monorail and closest to the parks, at $850/night or a whopping $5,950 total.

Now we check the same number of people for the same dates at David’s Vacation Club Rentals using their Cost Calculator. All of these options are Deluxe one-bedroom villas.

DVC Rental Rates

  • The same one-bedroom with standard view at Bay Lake Tower will cost $3,780 (over $2,000 dollars less than rack rates!)
  • The least expensive one-bedroom suite is Animal Kingdom Lodge, at $2,592 (this is in between the cheapest value option and the value plus option found above)

It’s also worth mentioning that Animal Kingdom Lodge is my top pick for the best Disney World resort hotels for kids!

When I do one on one trips with my kiddos, we rent points to stay in a deluxe studio which costs around $600 for the three nights.

This is a great way to upgrade your vacation with a Disney Deluxe resort while keeping with the prices of the values and moderates.

Skip the dining plan

How to save on Disney World
You don’t need the dining plan to enjoy a meal at Be Our Guest

Or at least crunch the numbers.

Disney is smart (really smart) and good at getting people to spend their money (very good).

They came up with a dining plan as a way for people to essentially pre-pay for their meals, and give an all-inclusive feel to their Disney vacation.

ASSUMING that it would result in a net savings, people bought like hotcakes.

The truth? The Disney Dining plan almost never saves you money.

Lots of people have run the numbers on this one. In order to get the value of your Disney dining plan, you would have to purposefully eat at the most expensive restaurants and order only the most expensive menu items at every meal.

If you ever get water instead of soda, if you ever skip dessert, or if you ever feel like a salad or chicken dish instead of steak… you are going to lose money with the dining plan.

If you are a big eater, drink lots of soda, and never share meals or get too full, you MIGHT be a good candidate for the dining plan. Maybe. You will still want to run the numbers first.

Here is an excellent rundown of the Disney Dining plan including a handy calculator to help you out!

My family doesn’t drink soda and almost never gets dessert. We also tend to split meals and snacks between the kids. An adult size chicken tenders and fries is plenty of lunch for two kids, for example.

How to save on Disney World
Sharing is caring! There’s plenty of shaved ice here for two

Instead of doing the dining plan, we like to stay in a suite that has a kitchen and get groceries delivered to cover our breakfast and snacks. Then we do one sit-down meal per day and one quick service. If we get a dessert, it is shared.

Remember you can always get a tap water from quick service locations for free.

Get grocery delivery

Getting groceries delivered is an awesome way to cut costs on food.

Even if you don’t want to cook on vacation (I know I don’t!) it still makes sense to order some quick and easy food items like cereal and milk, bananas, peanut butter and jelly, granola bars, yogurt, etc.

Having a quick breakfast in the room each morning also lets you get to the parks early and take advantage of the short lines without wasting time on a sit-down breakfast!

You can also get beer and wine delivered with your grocery order to enjoy in the evenings after the kids are in bed.

We use Orlando Grocery Express and have had all good experiences. And don’t worry about having to be present for your delivery- your Disney hotel will hold and even refrigerate your groceries for you until you get to your room.

Take advantage of free fun

Disney parks are fantastic and full of WAY more than you could do in a day.

They can also be exhausting and overstimulating for both adults and kids alike.

If you are staying five days or more, I highly recommend doing a “down day” without a park ticket.

Enjoy your hotel pool and the other activities available at your hotel. Visit Disney Springs and check out the huge LEGO store and World of Disney. Rent bikes and enjoy the leisure time as a family.

how to save money on Disney World
Biking to Disney Springs was literally the highlight of Tiana’s one on one trip!

The change of pace feels so good in the middle of several busy park days. You’ll also spend a lot less money by not doing a park! Just try not to be upset if your down day ends up being the kids’ favorite day!

Don’t rent a car

I love staying at the Disney resorts for many reasons, but one great perk is being able to use Magical Express transportation to and from the airport.

Once you’re at your Disney hotel, you can use the free Disney transportation to go to and from the parks.

This eliminates the need to rent a car (estimated $250/week) and cuts out the $22/day parking fee.

If you want to go where Disney transportation won’t take you (from one resort to another for example), you can use Uber all over the area. Since the distances are short, the prices are very affordable. You can enter the trip into the app ahead of time to see how much it’s going to cost.

Don’t have the Uber app yet? Sign up for an Uber account here and use code johnp37188ue to get $5 off your first four rides!

Skip the park hoppers

Park hopping can be awesome, especially if you have only a couple days in WDW and want to cram as much in as possible.

But at $55 per ticket, it’s worth thinking about if being able to park hop is really necessary. For trips that are 5 days or longer, you should be able to configure your days without needing park hoppers. If you aren’t planning to cover all four parks, you could do without park hoppers with even fewer days.

I’ve had amazing Disney trips both with and without park hopping, so it’s certainly not a necessity!

Stay on top of souvenirs

how to save on Disney World
These dresses were bought on sale six months before the trip and hidden from the girls until that day

Kids can make this difficult, but don’t let souvenirs bust your budget!

I always make sure to manage my kids’ expectations as far as toys and souvenirs ahead of time. They know before that plane even takes off that they will see tons of things they want that they won’t be getting.

I know, I know, I’m the meanest Mom ever!

My favorite way to eliminate the entire problem of kids asking for stuff is to get them each a gift card. I have my kids save coins in a coin jar that they can then cash in for their Disney gift card. You could also give them one for Christmas or a birthday gift.

$25 or $30 have been amounts that work well for us.

The kids then have the freedom to spend their gift card however they please. If they blow it all on the first day, that is that. Encourage them to think about the one thing they really want, but ultimately the choice is theirs.

It also makes sense to buy certain souvenirs ahead of time at a lower cost, such as princess dresses, light up toys, or any plush toys that can be bought at your local Disney store.

Get discounted gift cards

Disney gift cards frequently go on sale at Sam’s Club or BJs at a discount of around 5%. You can also use your Target Redcard to buy them at 5% off.

5% might not sound like much, but considering you might need $2000 for park tickets and food, getting discounted Disney gift cards would save you $100 with minimal time or effort.

Some people throw in a $25 Disney gift card every time they go to Target. This won’t save you any money, but it does feel like you spent less by buying them slowly throughout the year and spreading out the expense.

There are tons of other little ways to save! What is your best tip for how to save on Disney World?

For more Disney planning tips, don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest:

Early Morning Magic at Magic Kingdom: Is It Worth The Price?

Early Morning Magic

Early Morning Magic: What Is it?

Not to be confused with Extra Magic Hours (the extra hour at an assigned park for guests staying at a Disney resort hotel only), Early Morning Magic is a ticketed event open to any guest who books it in advance.

Early Morning Magic is offered on select Sundays and Tuesdays from 7:45 to 10 am. (For specific dates, check the official Disney site). During this time, seven Fantasyland attractions are open including:

  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Princess Fairytale Hall
  • It’s a Small World
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid

If you’ve done Early Morning Magic in the past, you’ll notice it now includes a few more attractions than it used to! (My review of EMM in fall 2018 took place before Princess Fairytale Hall, Mad Tea Party, and the Little Mermaid were added.)

The ticket also includes a breakfast buffet at Starlight Ray’s Cosmic Cafe (formerly at the Pinocchio Village Haus). It includes a good variety of breakfast foods and is all-you-care-to eat.

Early Morning Magic brunch
Just one of many trips we made through the buffet

At 9am, the park is open to everyone so this event gives you a nearly empty park from 7:45 to 9 where you can ride the aforementioned attractions as many times as you want with no lines. Then at 9:00 you can ride anything in the park (while people start to file in and lines are still short), as long as you get your fill of the breakfast by 10am.

So how much does all this magic cost?

The cost for EMM is $79 for adults and $69 for kids, plus tax.

It is important to note that unlike other ticketed events like the Halloween and Christmas parties, Early Morning Magic DOES require a day’s admission in addition to the event ticket.

EMM is actually booked like a dining reservation. You still need to use a regular day’s admission to enter the park.

Given this cost, let’s examine the pros and cons of Early Morning Magic at Magic Kingdom and determine if it is worth the price.

Our Experience at EMM

I took my 8 year old son on a whirlwind 3 day trip to Orlando to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal AND Walt Disney World. We only had one day to dedicate to WDW and try to get to most of our favorite Disney attractions (gasp!)

We decided on Magic Kingdom and Epcot as the two parks we wanted to visit that day. Even just scratching the service of these two huge parks would be difficult in such a short period of time, so I made the decision to splurge on Early Morning Magic as soon as I learned what it was.

Starting our day early was not an issue for us, as Zari is an early riser anyway. We were staying onsite at Universal so it was only a short Uber ride away from Magic Kingdom.

A quick timeline of our morning

Early Morning Magic

7:00: Uber to the TTC

7:30 Take the monorail to Magic Kingdom, check in and get our bracelets.

7:45 Enter Magic Kingdom. Walk down Main Street with the small herd, then take a few photos in the nearly empty park.

7:55-8:55 Fantasyland attractions (almost all walk-ons, the first couple Mine train rides had a wait of maybe 2-3 minutes): Seven Dwarfs Mine Train FIVE times total, Peter Pans flight, Winnie the Pooh, the Carrousel (not guaranteed to be open but it was for us), one bathroom break, and It’s a Small World.

8:55  We head towards Tomorrowland. At 9 o’clock they let us leave Fantasyland and we had only a few minutes wait to ride Space Mountain. My plan after that was to go on Buzz Lightyear Spaceranger Spin, but my son had a bit of a panic attack on Space Mountain which derailed our plans (whoops, forgot how intense that one is!).

9:30 ride Splash Mountain (10-15 minute wait). Debated riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad while lines were still short, but he was still a little gun-shy from Space Mountain.

9:45 Brunch at Pinnochio Village Haus. The brunch was delicious and we really enjoyed it. We didn’t feel rushed at all despite walking in during the last 15 minutes. We were even able to take some food for the road (pastries to eat later) since I always carry ziplock baggies in my park bag.

If you’re keeping count, that’s 11 rides plus a meal by 10am. 

And no, we weren’t running around or rushing in any way. I let my son lead the way and do as he pleased. We enjoyed ourselves every step of the way (well, except for the Space Mountain part!)

Here is a picture of him pretending to pull the sword out in front of the Carrousel.

Early Morning Magic carousel

After 10:00, EMM was officially over and we spent a couple more hours at Magic Kingdom enjoying the rest of the park. Then we took the monorail over to Epcot where our 3 pre-booked Fast Passes were, and enjoyed about 7 hours there.

Early Morning Magic Pros

It maximizes your time.

If you have a very short trip like I did and still want to be able to do and see a lot, EMM is a great way to do more in less time.

As you can see from our day outlined above, we were way ahead of the game by getting that early start and riding several of the most popular rides early. It set us up many steps ahead of the pack for the rest of the day.

It eliminates several of the longest lines.

In addition to having very little time, I also knew I wanted to do Early Morning Magic because my son has ADHD and can not handle long lines. I’ve done enough of these trips with him to know that even a “mild” 15 minute wait can break him.

For us, EMM was essentially the equivalent of having a Fastpass for Mine Train, Winnie, Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, and Splash Mountain PLUS the three FP we actually used at Epcot.

Even with the best Fastpass strategy imaginable, you won’t be able to accomplish what we did with EMM.

Being “alone” in Magic Kingdom really is magical.

Early Morning Magic
These crowds though!

When you first enter the park, you are grouped with everyone going to EMM plus the people with early dining reservations. So you aren’t exactly walking alone down Main Street. However if you wait a few minutes to allow people to pass, you do get the cool experience of seeing a nearly empty park.

Just don’t make the mistake I made allowing an 8 year old to take your fantasy castle photo, because it might end up looking like this:

Early Morning Magic
Oh no he didn’t. (Oh yes he did.)

It’s probably the only way you can ride your favorites over and over.

Early Morning Magic Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

I can’t think of any other way to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train five times in a row like we did that morning (and some people have ridden it many, many more times than that!) besides Early Morning Magic.

Even at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, when lines were very short, Mine Train still had a substantial wait.

If you love Peter Pan’s Flight (one of the longest lines at WDW), the same applies. Even if you do everything possible to beat Disney World crowds, these super popular rides will still have a wait.

My son was absolutely GIDDY getting off the ride and turning around to run through the empty queue and get right back on. He got to try riding in the first car, the last car, and the middle. Those are the little things that make the experience memorable for a kid.

You get a pretty great meal.

When crunching the numbers to decide if EMM is worth the cost for you, don’t forget about the cost you would pay for food without EMM.

Since we ate close to 10:00, it was essentially breakfast and lunch for us. We also had the pastries we packed up for later as a snack, and we refilled our water bottles with juice.

I had booked an early dinner reservation for us at Epcot, and aside from an ice cream treat we didn’t spend anything else on food for that day.

Here are a couple pictures of the buffet:

Early Morning Magic buffet

Pictured above is the cold food, including cold cuts and cheeses, sliced fruit, croissants and pastries.

Early Morning Magic breakfast

Not the most helpful picture because all the containers are closed! But I can see by reading the labels they had a vegetable frittata, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs. waffles, and French toast.

We made several trips through this line and enjoyed everything!

Early Morning Magic Cons

It makes an expensive day turn into a VERY expensive day.

Ok so I always cringe when I actually do the math and figure out how much a fun-filled Disney day actually costs. To be honest I try to avoid doing that at all costs! But for the sake of this article, I will.

via GIPHY

 

The cost of a one day ticket to WDW is $109/adult and $104/child age 3-9 (this varies by day and is actually the low season pricing- it goes up from there!) = $213

Add on $55 each to make those tickets Park Hoppers = $323

Add the $79/adult and $69/child ticket for Early Morning Magic = $471

$471 for the two of us for a single day. That may or not be including taxes. It’s a big number.

It requires waking up early on vacation.

For the 7:45 start time, you’ll want to arrive at Magic Kingdom no later than 7:30. Considering how long you take to get ready in the morning and how far from the park you’re staying, this could mean getting up earlier than 6 am.

For us, this is no biggie. For others, it’s a deal-breaker.

It only includes the 7 Fantasyland attractions.

If those don’t include any of your favorites, it probably doesn’t make sense for you to spend those hours only having access to those.

Is Early Morning Magic Worth the Cost?

For some people, 100% yes.

For others, maybe not.

If you have a longer trip planned with more than one full day dedicated to Magic Kingdom, then I would say no, it’s not necessary to book EMM.

If you have teens who are going to stay up until midnight the night before and be impossible to wake up in time, it’s a definite no.

Lastly, if you have a tight budget and would rather spend your dollars on other experiences, this is probably not going to make the cut.

So who do I recommend Early Morning Magic for?

  • People with limited time, only 1 or 2 park days like we had. (A more enjoyable way to tour is a longer trip but when that’s not possible this is very helpful.)
  • People who don’t do well with lines.
  • Super Disney fans who want the experience of riding the rides over and over or seeing entire lands without people in them.

We most likely will not be booking EMM for every Disney trip we take from now on, as it is a substantial expense. But overall we had an amazing experience and I would LOVE to do it again on another one of our short whirlwind visits!

They also have Early Morning Magic at Hollywood Studios now at Toy Story Land, which I’m definitely considering for next year.

What questions do you have about Early Morning Magic?

Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to answer!

The Best Disney Fast Pass Selections for 2019

If you’re trying to figure out the best Disney Fast Pass + selections for a seamless 2019 Disney vacation without waiting in long lines, then pull up a chair and start taking notes!

I truly love helping people plan their ideal Disney vacation. I’ve brainstormed with friends who are 2 years away from booking a trip, and I’ve jumped in to help friends who are leaving in a week and haven’t booked a thing.

The mistake I see again and again that makes me die a little inside is people not using Fast Pass! (Cue horror movie sound effects.)

Almost as bad- when people book Fast Passes, but they chose rides that really don’t warrant it or weren’t the best use of their selections.

Since you’re here, I know you won’t make any of those mistakes!

Disney Fast pass 2019

 

Disney Fast Pass FAQs

Let’s start with some of the questions I hear over and over again about booking Fast Passes.

Do you have to pay extra for Fast Pass?

No, no, and NO! Unlike Universal, Disney includes 3 Fast Passes per day for EVERY ticket. You don’t need to be staying on site and you don’t need to pay extra. And after you use those 3 (or let them expire), you can book more one at a time.

Is it really necessary to book Fast Pass ahead of time?

It not a requirement to schedule ahead of time, and most attractions will have Fast Passes available on the day of. However, if you want the best chance at those extremely popular attractions, you absolutely should book your Fast Passes as soon as you possibly can.

There are a limited number of Fast Passes for each attraction, and the most popular rides do run out of Fast Passes well in advance.

When can I book my Fast Passes?

If you are staying onsite at a Disney resort, you can book your Fast Passes 60 days before the start of your trip (and you can book your entire trip on that day). If you are staying offsite, you can book 30 days in advance. You will need to book each day of your trip one by one, abiding by the 30 day window.

The booking window opens at 7am EST, so sit down at your computer at 6:50 on the day your booking window opens and log on to MyDisneyExperience to book!

What’s the best time of day to schedule my Fast Passes for?

There are two schools of thought on this, and it depends on your touring strategy.

Personally I’m in the rope drop crowd (arriving before the park opens to take advantage of the early morning low crowds). With this strategy, I recommend booking Fast Passes starting at 11am. You can take advantage of the low crowds prior to that time while still having them scheduled early enough in the day to then use a 4th, 5th and 6th Fast Pass after your initial 3.

Disney fast pass

How can I get extra Fast Passes?

Once all your pre-booked Fast Passes have been used (or expire), you can book another using the MDX app or at Kiosks located throughout the parks. You may only book one at a time with this method. Once you use your fourth Fast Pass, you can book a 5th.

For 4th Fast Passes and beyond, you can repeat one of the attractions that you already FastPassed and you can choose a different attraction from the Tier One category. Just remember these are subject to availability so it’s not incredibly likely that those will be available. People do change plans and cancel Fast Passes last minute however, so it’s worth checking.

What’s this I hear about “tiers”?

At Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios, Fast Passes are selected within a tiered model.

This means you may only select ONE of the two or three most popular attractions in that park. You can then select two of the Tier 2 attractions. My recommendation is to choose your most desired Tier 1 attraction and use Fast Pass for that. You can then prioritize the other Tier 1 attraction to be your first ride of the morning if you arrive at rope drop, or your last ride of the night if you take the late shift (both good times to ride a popular ride without a Fast Pass).

Want to know how I afford to go to Disney every year without going broke? Don’t miss this post that dishes all my secrets on how to save on Disney World!

Best Disney Fast Pass Selections For Each Park

Magic Kingdom (no tiers)

Disney fast pass
Seven dwarfs mine train: the best Fast pass choice for Magic Kingdom

Top 3 Picks

  1. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  2. Space Mountain
  3. Splash Mountain

Other Solid Choices

  1. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  2. Peter Pan’s Flight (personally I think it’s overhyped, but the lines get VERY long so if you choose to ride, do it with Fastpass or at rope drop)
  3. Winne the Pooh (slow load times = long lines)
  4. Enchanted Tales with Belle
  5. Meet Mickey and Minnie at Town Square Theater (sadly this Mickey no longer talks)
  6. Pirates of the Caribbean
  7. Buzz Lightyear Spaceranger Spin

Epcot

Disney fast pass
Inside that giant ball is Spaceship Earth, one of my favorite rides

Tier 1 (choose ONE of these)

  • Frozen Ever After
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Test Track

If you have a Frozen fan on your hands, go with that as the lines are longest. Otherwise, choose Test Track. Don’t miss Soarin’- ride it first thing in the morning or last at night, or grab it as a 4th Fast Pass if you’re lucky.

Character spot is Tier 1 but probably not your best use of FastPass.

Illuminations is also a Tier 1 choice but nobody should choose it, there are plenty of spots all around the lake with great views of the show.

Also note-worthy is that Illuminations will be replaced by a new nighttime spectacular show at Epcot sometime in 2019. It remains to be seen whether or not this new show will alter the best choice of Fast Pass, but I will keep this updated if it does!

Tier 2 Solid Choices

The other attractions rarely get long lines so Fast pass should not be necessary.

Animal Kingdom

Disney Fast Pass
If you’re brave enough for Everest, you’ll want to ride it with a FP!

Tier One (must choose one)

  • Avatar Flight of Passage- The most sought after Fastpass in WDW. Get one of it you can!
  • Na’vi River Journey (only pick this if you can’t ride Flight of Passage due to height or other restriction!)

Tier Two Solid Choices

Hollywood Studios

Disney Fast Pass selections
Tower of Terror: A great choice for your Tier 2 FP

The addition of Toy Story Land has completely rearranged the Fast Pass tiers for this park. I imagine that, after the newness wears off, they will restructure the tiers again. For now, they look like this:

Tier One (must choose one)

  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Toy Story Mania

Your best bet is to get a Fast pass for Slinky Dog and try to ride the others standby or with a 4th Fast pass or higher. The wait times for Alien Swirling Saucers have died down recently so should be the most reasonable of the three. Also, the queue for Toy Story Mania is a fun one, which helps if you choose to ride it standby.

Tier Two Solid Choices

  • Rockin’ Roller Coaster
  • Tower of Terror
  • Star Tours

Still have Fast pass questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll do another Fast pass FAQ in my next Disney post!

If you are planning the ultimate family Disney vacation, don’t miss my picks for kids’ favorite Disney resorts and kid’s favorite Disney restaurants!

And don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest:

 

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