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How To Beat Walt Disney World Crowds In 5 Steps

Are you planning the ultimate Disney vacation and trying to figure out how to best manage Disney World crowds? Your ultimate guide is here!

Disney World Crowds

 

1. Go in the off season

Thinking of a Disney vacation when the kids are off of school for Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, or summer vacation? Unfortunately, so is the rest of the world! These are when you will find peak crowds at WDW.

The week from Christmas to New Years sees the absolute highest crowds of the year, frequently causing Magic Kingdom to close due to capacity (Magic Kingdom holds an estimated 100,000 guests!) Even minor holidays like Columbus Day and Presidents Day will surge crowds for that week.

Disney World crowds

Christmas crowds at WDW Photo credit: MouseSteps

Are you telling me to take my kids out of school?

That’s a personal choice that depends on a lot of factors. Consider things like: how many other absences your children have, their age, ability to catch up on missed work, and the school’s policy on absences. It may or may not be a good choice for you.

Also consider how big a vacation this will be for your family. Is this your one and only Disney vacation where you want to fit as much in as possible? Or do you go every year and plan on taking it easy?

If you’re still on the fence, sit down and look at your child’s school calendar. Are there any days off that most of the country won’t have off? A random fall break, teacher development days, or February recess? That might be your opportune time to go without missing as much school.

What if I have no other choice than to go during these peak times?

In my book, a crowded day at Disney World still beats a regular day at home. If you must go during high crowds, follow each my other points to the letter, and make the best of it.

So when is the best time to go according to Disney World crowds?

Gone are the days when the parks are ever “empty”. Even during the low crowd times of year you will see substantial wait times for the most popular rides. But the average wait times will be significantly lower if you go in: January, February (except the week of President’s Day), April (except Easter week), early May, late August, September, October (except Columbus Day), November (except Thanksgiving week), and the first half of December.

Disney World crowds

For more specifics, including which park is the best to go to each day, I highly recommend Undercover Tourist’s crowd calendar.

2. Avoid the park that has Extra magic hours

You’re staying in a Disney hotel and you want to take advantage of all the perks. I get it. But the key to avoid crowds is to zig when everyone else zags.

For those who don’t know, each day one of the four parks has “Extra Magic Hours”, or EMH, meaning it opens early or stays open late for guests who are staying at a Disney hotel. People love to feel like they’re part of something exclusive! They also want to take advantage of all the perks that go along with the big bucks they dropped on their Disney hotel. That means the park that has Extra Magic Hours is going to be the most crowded park that day. Avoid that park!

The funny thing is, most people don’t even end up at the EMH park during the bonus hours. They either end up sleeping through the early morning hours, or being too tired to stay out for the evening hours. But people still see EMH as Disney telling them which park to go to that day, and they listen!

The only exception to this rule: There is ONE situation where I recommend EMH parks. If you have park hopper tickets, and you actually get up early enough to enjoy the early morning extra hours, by all means go to the that park for those hours. You will enjoy a couple low-crowd hours. Then, once the rest of the pack arrives, hop over to a less crowded park.

3. Rock rope drop

In the first hour the park is open, you will be able to accomplish as much as you would in 3-4 hours in the afternoon. Unless you are a family of super late risers whose vacation would be ruined by setting an alarm, I’d recommend putting the effort in to arriving at the park 30 minutes before it opens.

avoid crowds at Disney World
T and Z in empty Animal Kingdom after arriving 30 mins prior to rope drop!

Tips for making Rope Drop work for you:

  • Carry breakfast with you and eat it outside the park entrance while you wait for it to open. We get groceries delivered through Garden Grocer so all we need to do is grab a banana, yogurt, granola bar, or single-serving dry cereal box and throw it in our bag.
  • Don’t light the candle at both ends. Plan your days so the ones that start early, end early. It’s not enjoyable to try to do parks from open to close, especially if you have little ones.
  • If you are trying to do morning and evening hours, make sure to take that afternoon nap/break.

4. Use FastPass wisely!

I have an in-depth post about Fastpass, but here are just some quick highlights:

Do NOT miss your booking window to select FastPasses! Book your FastPasses 60 days from your check-in date if you’re staying on Disney property, or 30 days from the start of your trip if you’re staying off site. Log on to MyDisneyExperience to book your FastPasses starting at 7am EST.

Hit that sweet spot when selecting the times of your FastPasses. You don’t want to use them the first hour or two in the morning, because crowds are already low then. Wait too late in the day, and you won’t be able to take advantage of the extra FastPasses you can get after using your initial three.

11am to 2pm is generally the ideal time to book your FastPasses.

It’s also critical that you’re making your selections wisely. Your kid might love It’s a Small Word, but don’t waste a FastPass on it! Use your FastPasses on attractions that have the longest waits so they save you the most time.

FastPass priorities for each park:

Magic Kingdom

  1. 7 Dwarfs Mine Train
  2. Splash Mountain
  3. Space Mountain
  4. Peter Pan’s Flight
  5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  6. Enchanted Tales with Belle

Epcot

  1. Frozen Ever After
  2. Soarin’
  3. Test Track  (note you can only choose ONE of these three due to the tiering system)
  4. Spaceship Earth
  5. Mission Space
  6. Character Spot

Animal Kingdom

  1. Avatar: Flight of Passage
  2. Na’vi River Journey (choose ONE of these two due to tiering system)
  3. Expedition Everest
  4. Kali River Rapids
  5. Kilimanjaro Safari

Hollywood Studios

  1. Rockin Roller Coaster
  2. Toy Story Mania (choose ONE of these two due to tiering system)
  3. Tower of Terror
  4. Star Tours
  5. Frozen Sing Along
Disney World crowds
You want to be in the line on the RIGHT. Photo credit: The Mouse for Less

Not sure if your children are tall enough for these popular rides? I’ve outlined every height restriction in Walt Disney World as well as which rides are potentially scary for children or may induce motion sickness!

5. Make a quick getaway

Last but not least! Some of the longest, most stressful lines are not for attractions at all, but for buses back to your hotel after the park closes. After the evening spectaculars, you along with tens of thousands of others are all trying to exit at the same time. When you’ve had a long day and the kids are falling asleep in their strollers, the last thing you want to do is get elbowed in a sea of people and have to wait an hour for a bus back to your hotel. Here are some tips for an easier getaway:

Strategically place yourself near an exit

The train station balcony by the exit of Magic Kingdom is a great place to watch fireworks and puts you right by the exit for an easy getaway. Another good option is the hub at the beginning of Main Street by the flagpole. This is also a good place to see the parade.

At Epcot, you can watch Illuminations from the entrance to World Showcase (by the two merchandise buildings) and you’ll make it out of the park before the herd.

Take a different route to the exit

If you do find yourself by the castle for the fireworks, here is a trick to get to the exit faster. Most people don’t know that the shops all along Main Street are interconnected on the inside. When everyone is making their way down at a snail’s pace, you can walk right through from shop to shop.

Epcot has an advantage because it has two exits. In addition to the main entrance, there is the International Gateway located in between the France and UK pavilions of World Showcase. For anyone staying at the Boardwalk, Yacht Club, Beach Club, Swan, or Dolphin hotels, this exit puts them at an easy walking distance to their hotel. Even if you aren’t staying at one of these, exiting via the International Gateway and then calling an Uber to your hotel might be a good option for those looking to avoid a crowded bus.

Consider getting an Uber

Getting around Disney World via Uber can be a great option if you’re in the time crunch. Typically rides from place to place within the World will cost $8-$13.

Be sure to download the Uber app before your trip if you’ve never used an Uber before. This will save time and have you all set to go when you’re leaving the parks.

If you want to get $5 off each of your first 4 Uber rides, (and support Real Mom Recs!) use the code johnp37188ue when you sign up for your Uber rider account.

If you’re taking an Uber from Magic Kingdom, you’ll need to meet it at the Transportation and Ticket Center. Only Disney authorized vehicles can drive right up to the entrance of the park.

For those who need a car seat, it is possible to order an UberX with a car seat for about $8 more than the regular rate.. Check out Uber’s website for more details on this.

Disney has also partnered with Lyft and launched the new Minnie Van service but at this time it is only available to guests of the Boardwalk, Yacht Club, and Beach Club. I will update if/when they expand to all the resorts.

A final note about Disney World crowds

Don’t be that parent that lets the stress of crowds ruin a good time for you and your kids. Some amount of people-herding is inevitable during this type of trip. The more relaxed you are about it, the better your children will deal with it, too.

Our Review of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Last week I took my 9 year old on a very special one-on-one trip to Disney World. While we only had three days there, we packed in as much fun and bonding as we possibly could. The focal point of the trip was Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP), which my daughter has been wanting to go to since she knew it existed.

Mickey's not so scary Halloween party

I’ll give you the play by play of how our night went, and sum it up by answering the question “is it worth the ticket price?

Ticket prices range from $74 to $115, depending on the date (Halloween night is the most expensive, August and September dates are less expensive). The party ticket costs almost as much as a full day park ticket, so it’s important to weigh your priorities.

Entering the park

Here is something they don’t tell you on the party ticket, and it could make a real difference for people deciding whether or not to go. The party officially runs from 7pm to 12am, but you can enter Magic Kingdom with your party ticket at 4pm. So if you’re calculating how much you’re paying per party hour, count it as an 8 hour party instead of 5.

Thanks to the internet, I knew this tidbit ahead of time. Tiana and I rolled up to the gates just after 3:30 pm along with a few thousand of our closest friends. The cast members were directing the people with party tickets to line up to enter through the gates on the right, and people with regular tickets to enter on the left.

They scanned our Magic bands and finger print like a normal park entry.

As soon as we were through the gates, cast members were waiting to put our party bands on us.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party
photo credit: Allears.net

Just beyond them were other cast members handing out the treat bags.

The whole entry process was much quicker and smoother than I expected and we were actually inside the park before 4pm.

The next part was a bit different than what I expected. As soon as we got to the town square, they funneled all party guests to the right down a road not typically open to park guests. It went back behind the shops on the right side of Main Street and came out right around the Plaza Ice Cream parlor. There wasn’t much going on on this path, except some photo ops with photographers and more cast members handing out the first treats for everyone’s bags. My guess is they just wanted to keep Main Street clear for the regular visitors who may be trying to exit at that time.

The entrance procedure worked fine, but it is worth mentioning that you don’t get to walk down Main Street upon entering. For those of us (myself included) who love the joyful feeling you get when you’ve just entered Magic Kingdom and you’re walking down that iconic street with the exhilarating view of the castle… you might feel like you’re missing something.

The 4-7pm “overlap” hours

Here is another reason to enter the park as soon as possible! During the party, there is no FP+. I’m unsure of the reason for this except that with the limited number of tickets sold plus a myriad of special party events going on, there isn’t a huge need for it. But with your party ticket, you ARE able to book three fast passes from 4 to 7. This is a great way to “guarantee” you get to hit your most popular rides without wasting valuable party time.

Tiana and I had made our FP selections 60 days in advance and we chose Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion (the only ride that actually might have longer than typical wait times during the party) and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. So as soon as we got through the entry procedure we made a beeline for Big Thunder Mountain.

Tiana had to take off her wig and I took off my horns because we were concerned about them flying off on the ride.

On the walk from Frontierland to Liberty Square, I was already starting to notice how sparse the crowds were.

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

Before we knew it we were walking into Haunted Mansion. This is one that Tiana has never been brave enough to get on before, but she was excited to ride now. She may have been squeezing all the blood out of my arm and closing her eyes for most of it, but she made it through.

When we got off Haunted Mansion we were starting to get hungry and it looked like it might rain, so we made our way to Columbia Harbor House for dinner. It worked out perfectly because the restaurant was practically empty so we enjoyed a quiet, peaceful sit down dinner without taking up too much time. There was also a brief downpour outside that we completely missed.

After dinner we hopped right on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. That ride is easily one of my favorites in all of Walt Disney World and it’s one of Tiana’s favorites as well so we definitely enjoyed our ride.

We were on a roller coaster kick at this point so we hopped over to Barnstormer, which was a walk-on (one of many we experienced that night!) Barnstormer is on my list of 5 most underrated Disney attractions so obviously I’m a fan of this short-but-sweet little coaster.

Now for a couple of minor disappointments. It was about 6:30 at this point, and I realized I had to hustle to a couple other of my favorite attractions that don’t stay open for the party (most of the rides stay open, but not all, so you have to research beforehand). We went over to Storybook Circus hoping to catch Minnie, Daisy, Donald and Goofy before that spot closed but when we got there they were already gone and the spot was being set up the trick-or-treat stop.

We realized the non-party attractions were actually closing before 7 so we booked it over to Mickey’s Philharmagic, but that was also closed already. It was a slight bummer to miss that one but we couldn’t stay down with all the awesome energy going on in Magic Kingdom. Tiana was especially loving checking out everyone’s costumes.

I realized our sunlight was starting to wind down so we thought we better get a picture in front of the castle. There were Photopass photographers everywhere.

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

After this photo was taken, we made our way to Adventureland to see how long the line was for Moana. The line turned out to be VERY long, so we decided to skip it. We were about to go ride Pirates of the Caribbean when we noticed a new line beginning to form that wasn’t long at all. We jumped in it and were the 5th group to meet Aladdin and Abu.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party

Not surprisingly, Abu did lots of “monkeying” around. He tried to rifle through our bag and looked for bugs in Tiana’s hair which she thought was pretty funny!

Official party time

One thing lots of people are curious about is how they change over from regular park guests to party ticket holders only. They do it by checking for the wristband they put on us when we entered using our Halloween party ticket. Right at 7:00, we noticed cast members asking to see people’s wristband (especially when going from one land to another). Anyone without a wristband was escorted to the gates while people with wristbands were allowed to keep walking.

So, we had just monkeyed around with Abu and then we went right to Pirates. Just outside the ride was a trick-or-treat stop, so we went through to add to our candy collection. All the trick-or-treat stops are easy to find because they have a big blow up marker that looks like this:

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

We never actually set out looking for candy during party, just stopped to grab some whenever it happened to be right in front of us. Our bags were still full by the end of the night so it doesn’t take much effort to amass some serious candy.

Tiana was eager to see the Sanderson sisters in the Villains Spelltacular, having recently seeing Hocus Pocus for the first time, so we decided to head over to the castle to catch the first show. (There are three shows times: 8:15, 10:45, and 12:00). We decided to grab a snack on the way. Even though there are tons of special holiday themed treats during the party, I felt like I couldn’t visit Magic Kingdom without a Dole Whip so that’s what I chose. Tiana must have had enough sweet treats so she went for popcorn.

The Sanderson sisters were fantastic and we loved seeing all the other villains as well.

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

The first of the Boo to You parades was coming up at 9:15, but we decided to take advantage of everyone else watching that and go on as many rides as we could! We were on a mission to stay for the whole party so we knew we could watch the 11:15 parade which is known to be less crowded.

First we covered Tomorrowland with Buzz (walk on), Space Mountain (15 min wait) and the Peoplemover (always a walk on).

Here are the obligatory ride pics:

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

Tiana thought it was pretty much the coolest thing ever to be able to open her treat bag and stuff her face with candy while riding the Peoplemover! We were also able to see the Monsters Inc dance party which was cool because we are both too shy to dance at it but enjoyed seeing it.

Next on the docket was Fantasyland to hit everything we missed the first time around. Every ride was a walk on except for Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train which were 20 minutes and 30 minutes. It was crazy how fast we were hopping from ride to ride!

There were lots of special characters to meet during all of this, but I was letting Tiana take the reigns on how we spent our time and she preferred to do rides. But we did see Lotso Hugging Bear, Cruella Deville, Jack Skellington, Mickey and Minnie in their Halloween attire, and Winnie the Pooh in their Halloween costumes while we were making our rounds. We were happy enough to see them from a distance instead of waiting in line to meet them.

I told Tiana to pick one last ride before heading over to see the parade and she decided she wanted to do Haunted Mansion again, this time with her eyes open 😆. She also felt like a tough guy being brave enough to ride it when it was dark out.

Haunted Mansion was marked as a 20 minute wait but we were on the ride after waiting 10.

This time she kept her eyes open the whole time and I think she actually enjoyed it! Her famous line is now “is that a hologram?!” anytime she sees anything spooky.

Hallowishes

The special Halloween fireworks begin at 10:15 and they are even bigger and better than the normal Magic Kingdom fireworks. Of course the music and ambience set the mood as well.

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

We were watching on the bridge to Frontierland, a spot we grabbed at the last second, so it’s not a perfect view. There is a bit of tree hanging down which you can see in this photo, but it didn’t take anything away from the experience.

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

All the explosions and effects were breathtaking. I don’t think Tiana enjoyed it as much as I did though, because she tends to be sensitive to loud noises and I saw her covering her ears at the end.

Boo to You Parade

After getting another snack from the Main Street bakery we found an empty spot on the curb right outside that we decided was perfect for parade viewing.

In fact we were so close, when the Headless Horseman galloped by, it seemed he was practically running over our feet!

Then they had some of the Zootopia characters come out and dance with kids to warm up the crowd.

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

Then finally, the parade. I had heard great things about this parade, and it did not disappoint.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party

The gravediggers were a major highlight of the parade, as well as these guys:

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

Being seated so close made the whole experience pretty eerie for a “not so scary” Halloween party!

Our first Boo to You parade was majorly pixie dusted, because not 1, not 2, but 3 characters talked to us during it! First Snow White told me she liked my horns, so my day was made. Then Cruella Deville came up and rubbed Tiana’s wig saying “ohh dahling you need to foof it up more, and next time half-white half-black, ok now?” (I could kick myself for not getting that one on video!) While Tiana’s jaw was still on the floor from that, Dr. Facilier waltzed over and pointed out her purple jacket, saying he likes it because it matches his jacket. We pretty much felt like we were the stars of the parade 💖 That’s the kind of Disney magic that has me coming back again and again!

After the parade ended, we got swept up in the current of people heading for the exit and decided we better go catch our bus before waits started to build. We were ahead of the pack when we got to the buses so it was no problem and we made it back to our room quickly. Just in time to wash our faces and collapse in bed!

Was it worth it?

Based on our experience, the cost of the party ticket was 100% worth it. Honestly, even if you didn’t like Halloween at all, just having access to Magic Kingdom with such short lines for all the rides would make it worth the price in my book. And all the Halloween extras are icing on the cake.

The park has a totally different vibe with everyone in costume, special characters, shows, parades, etc. The energy is super exciting! Had I been traveling with my whole family however, the experience would probably been very different. So these would be my guidelines for families trying to decide whether or not to do the party:

1. Will you be able to stay for the whole thing? And I don’t mean with the kids falling asleep and miserable at 9 o’clock and parents forcing them to stay for the whole thing.

2. What would the rest of the your day look like? We took it easy the day of the party- sleeping in, doing a bike ride and relaxing by the pool. I would not recommend trying to “squeeze in” MNSSHP after a full day touring the park.

3. Would your children be scared? My daughter is 9 and she was spooked by some things. My younger children might have been too afraid to enjoy themselves (one of them in particular who is extremely sensitive to scary things). Even though the party isn’t a “Halloween horrors” type of event, Disney knows how to set the mood to make even Disney villains seem pretty terrifying.

4. What night can you go? Our party was on a Sunday, which tend to be less crowded. The Tuesday parties are also recommended. I don’t know if it makes a huge difference, but I’ve heard the Friday night parties close to Halloween are more packed (and sell out).

5. Are you there for the characters? If you want to do the party to meet some of the rare characters, you’d need to do some serious prioritizing and strategizing. Some of the most popular characters there (like the Seven Dwarfs and Jack Skellington) attract wait times of 2 or more hours. If meeting lots of characters is your number one priority, then go for it! Just do it knowing you might get to do little else. You can’t go into it thinking you’re going to meet all the characters and take part in all the other party fun.

For us this party was a magical night and the highlight of our trip! I will be recapping the other parks we visited as well, including the new Avatar rides at Animal Kingdom, so be on the lookout for that.

What other questions do you have about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party?

 

5 Most Underrated Attractions at Walt Disney World

If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, chances are you’re planning on riding the biggest, fastest, newest, and most popular attractions. While some of these are spectacular, there are also some underrated attractions you probably overlooked in your guide book. Whether not as new or not as thrilling, these are still fantastic Disney attractions you don’t want to miss!

5 Most Underrated Disney attractions

Bonus: these attractions will have shorter lines!

The Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover (Magic Kingdom)

Disney attractions
Photo Credit: wdwinfo.com

Where to find it: Walk down Main Street USA and take a right when you get to the hub. This is the entrance to Tomorrowland. Continue straight and go just past Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, but not as far as Space Mountain. You will see escalators going up, and this is the entrance to the Peoplemover.

Why we love it: Walt created this to the be mass transit system of the future, hence the name “Peoplemover”. In reality it isn’t used to get anywhere because it just goes around in a loop. But the Peoplemover is one of my favorite rides in all of Disney World, and here’s why:

  • The whole family can ride together. We can fit all 5 of us in one section comfortably. Considering most rides we needed to break up into 2 and 3 (and with 3 people being squished), it was really nice to all be together.
  • It is 10 minutes long. Perfect for when you have a little extra time to kill before a FastPass or dining reservation.
  • You can rest comfortably. Everyone lets out a nice “Ahhh” when sitting down in the comfortable seat. It’s totally relaxing with the breeze hitting you as you spin around Tomorrowland. Your feet will appreciate a break from all the walking too.
  • It has some cool history. This ride has been around since 1975 and was the brainchild of Walt Disney himself.
  • The views of Tomorrowland are really cool! You can usually see characters like Buzz Lightyear signing autographs below, you ride right over the cars of the Tomorrowland Speedway, and best of all: riding through the building that houses Space Mountain.
  • No wait! The Peoplemover runs continuously and people just get on and off. I have never seen a line here at all, which is pretty huge for Magic Kingdom! They will even let you stay on and ride again after the loop is complete. My two year old and I once rode 3 loops back to back without getting off while my husband and 2 older kids went on Space Mountain.
  • Toddlers will love it. My 2 year old absolutely adored this ride. With a short stretch in the dark and a couple gentle turns, it was just fun enough for her. She loved looking at all the sites going by. Just look at her joy in this shot I got:

Disney attractions

Don’t miss this post with more tips on surviving Disney World with a toddler!

Kali River Rapids (Animal Kingdom)

Disney attractions
Photo credit: disneydaybyday.com

Where to find it: Enter Animal Kingdom and go straight. Veer right at the Tree of Life and follow signs for Asia. When you get to Asia you will hit Yak and Yeti and Kali River Rapids is tucked around the corner. (Sidenote: am I the only one who finds Animal Kingdom confusing to navigate even with the plethora of signage???)

Why we love it: This ride gets NO love on popular Disney forums and I can not figure out why! It has been the highlight of Animal Kingdom for me on each of my trips there. A great hybrid of thrilling and family-friendly, this attraction has a 38 inch height restriction, so an average sized 4 year old can ride.

In addition to the excitement of bobbing down the “river” (which does have one pretty thrilling drop), there is also a thrill in how wet you might get. It is a bit like Russian roulette because of the 12 riders in each boat, ten will get a little bit splashed and two will come out completely soaked like they showered with their clothes on. As the sign says upon entering: “You will get wet. You might get soaked.”

If getting wet is a great concern for you, just pack a change of clothes in a backpack and enjoy this ride!

The Great Goofini’s Barnstormer (Magic Kingdom)

Disney attractions
Photo credit: disneyworld.disney.go.com

Where to find it: In the New Fantasyland section of Magic Kingdom. It’s tucked in the back corner of the Storybook Circus area where you’d never see it unless you were looking for it. Look for a small roller coaster where the car looks like a little airplane. Casey Junior Splash n Soak station is directly across from it which is great for toddlers who are overheating or just need to hop out of the stroller and burn some energy.

Why we love it: Known as a “junior roller coaster”, this short and sweet coaster is great for many reasons. The height restriction is only 35 inches, meaning a typical 3 year old and even some tall 2 year olds can ride. This makes it a great consolation prize for the little ones who can’t ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (40 inch height restriction) or 7 Dwarfs Mine Train (38 inch height restriction).

Barnstormer is also great because it can be a “test coaster” to see how small children react to thrill rides. While it is a kiddie coaster, it does have some speed. If your child has never been on a roller coaster before, this is a great one to start them out on and see if they will be able to handle the bigger, faster rides. It’s also super short, about 1 minute long, so if your child panics at least it will be over with soon.

My son who was too afraid to go on Mine Train absolutely loved Barnstormer! And with the short line, he was able to ride it several times with only a few minutes of waiting in between.

Living with the Land (Epcot)

Disney attractions
Photo credit: allears.net

Where to find it: Go straight through the entrance and veer right at Spaceship Earth (the giant silver golfball looking thing, or as my kids call it “The Epcot Ball”). Take a right into Future World West and follow signs for “The Land”. Once inside the land pavilion, don’t follow the herd that’s running to Soarin’. Instead head to the right and you’ll see the entrance to Living with the Land.

Why we love it: This gentle, 14-minute long boat ride is both educational and fun. A nice break from the hustle-and-bustle, this attraction focuses on farming and sustainability rather than characters and movies. Glide along through four greenhouses and an aquacell. Don’t worry, the voiceover isn’t too dry! Disney is even able to make crops interesting for kids. Mine loved seeing pumpkins and tomatoes grown in the shape of Mickey’s head and inspecting the huge tanks of strange-looking fish. The adults marveled over the “Creative House” section which shows how to grow crops in different ways including hanging in the air and with no soil.

Living with the land Epcot Disney world
Photo credit: bestoforlando.com

Overall, just one those really neat, engaging, underrated Disney attractions.

Mickey’s PhilharMagic (Magic Kingdom)

Disney attractions
Photo credit: disneyphotoblog.wordpress.com

Where to find it: Go straight down Main Street and through the castle. When you hit the carousel, turn to your left and you’ll be looking at Mickey’s PhilharMagic.

Why we love it: When you hear “animated 3-D movie”, you might think this attraction is skippable. Don’t make that mistake! It is a delight for the whole family (and yes, I even enjoyed it during my adults-only Disney trips). My kids always want to see it several times each trip and I’m happy to oblige.

The show is funny, fast-paced, and incorporates sights, sounds, and smells. With your 3-D glasses you really feel like you’re in the center of the action. You might even get water spritzed on you as part of the show.

Similar to the Peoplemover, Philharmagic is a fantastic way to escape the heat and rest your legs. You also shouldn’t have much of a wait. At 15 minutes long, even if you enter the waiting area when a show has just started, you won’t have to wait too long for the next one.

Disney attractions
Photo credit: disneyworld.disney.go.com

Make sure to add these 5 Disney attractions to your touring plan, and come back here and tell us what you think!

 

For more help with planning your Disney vacation, check out my 7 most useful websites for planning.

7 Best Resources for Planning your Disney vacation

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World?  Want to maximize your magic but feeling lost with all the details that go into it? Here are the most useful sites to help you every step of the way!

Best site for when to go: Yourfirstvisit.net

Yourfirstvisit.net has an awesome crowd calendar that takes all 52 weeks of the year and rates them on a easy-to-read chart based on whether crowds will be low, moderate, or high (and varying degrees in between).  Thinking of going the week of Easter or Christmas?  This handy tool lets you see right away that those weeks rate an 11 on the 1-10 crowd calendar scale.  Yikes!

Best site for where to stay: wdwinfo.com

This site, also home to the popular Disney discussion boards called “DISboards”, gives detailed descriptions of every Disney-owned resorts as well as off-site Orlando hotels.  Each hotel listed has tons of photos including a walking tour, food pics, amenities, resort maps, room categories, and more.  Seriously everything you could want to know about your Disney resort is easily found here.  I also recommend jumping over to those discussion forums where thousands of Disney fans are there to answer any question you could come up with.

For families of more than 4, your options of Disney resorts is somewhat limited.  Definitely check out yourfirstvisit.net, specifically this guide to beds and # of sleep spaces.  All your options for larger families are outlined here, complete with floor plans so you can perfectly plan who will sleep where.  Little Susie will thank you when she doesn’t end up having to share a bed with Grandma!

Best site for budgeting tips: Mousesavers

Looking for Disney discounts and deals?  (Who isn’t?)  Saving money on your trip is no easy feat but Mousesavers has truly thought of everything.  In addition to the big ones like park tickets and resort discounts, they also have deals on things like stroller rental, grocery delivery, car rental, and trip insurance.  Every little bit of savings can get you closer to your dream vacation.

Best site for all things characters: Kenny the Pirate  

 Do not underestimate how much joy your children will get out of meeting their favorite characters face to face!  Kenny the Pirate is the guru of Disney characters.  Check out his blog, follow him on facebook, or download his Character Locator app to find everything you need to know about where to find your kid’s favorites, what their meet schedules are, and how to minimize time waiting in line for your meet and greet.

Meeting characters was a major highlight for my kids on our Disney trip. And don’t forget to pack costumes!

 

Best site for Fastpass+ info: Touringplans.com

 Touringplans.com is a mecca for tons of detailed info for your Disney trip, however they do charge a subscription fee for some of the most useful components, like the crowd predictor and customized touring plans.  Without a subscription however, you still have access to tons of useful information about Fastpass+ and the best way to use it.  Instructions on how to book them, how to get more than 3 per day, and which attractions are your best use of Fastpass are all there to help you spend more time riding and less time waiting.

Best site for where to eat: AllEars.net

Allears.net has a comprehensive dining section complete with menus and reviews for EVERY restaurant in all of Walt Disney World and the resorts!  You can easily find a list of restaurants in each location and compare them by average rating and price point.  Have kids with food allergies?  Be sure to check out the section “Special Dietary Needs” for the answers to all your questions.

Best site to sum it all upEasyWDW

EasyWDW has a fantastic summary of each park that can help make your day there easy breezy.  If you do nothing else, check out these cheat sheets for each park.  They have a map that allows you to get your “lay of the land” with restrooms, restaurants, rides, shows, and snack locations.  They outline what order is best to hit attractions in with the best way to maximize your Fastpasses.  There are various plans for how to attack your day, whether you are doing a full day, half day, arriving late, etc.  Wondering how long the line for an attraction will likely be at a certain time of day?  There are charts for that included.

These sites helped our family have an amazing and stress-free first trip to Walt Disney World (yes, even with a toddler)!  What are some of your most useful Disney planning sites?  Drop a comment!

Disney Planning Resources

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