Time is money at Walt Disney World. You will spend a ton of your hard-earned money at Disney, and wasting time is really the equivalent to wasting your precious vacation dollars. The more time you spend standing in lines, the more time you are not doing something else fun. So let’s get to it and not waste any more…time.
Here are 10 ways to save time (equals money), because who among us doesn’t need more of both?
1) Walk faster
I have read a lot of Disney books, and I have never read this suggestion anywhere, so I hope I am the first person to point this out. You will save time if you just walk faster! But you had better be ready to do some serious walking. Most people average between 10 and 15 miles each Disney day. You need to start training right now for that vacation that you started saving money for months ago. Start walking every day now, so you don’t have to waste time sitting on a bench later with sore feet and an aching back.
2)Read and make plans
Read up on park touring plans and use them. People actually study up on where to go and when to play at Disney, sort of like studying for a semester exam, because even if you don’t follow the plan to the letter, you will still save time by having a clue where you are going. Getting lost in the parks and doubling back will cost you valuable rollercoaster-riding time.
Who offers plans for your family for a nominal fee? Touringplans.com. While I have been to Disney enough times that I do not need to follow their touring plans, I use their phone app to tell me which rides to skip at certain times of my Disney day.
3) Eat when it’s less crowded
Eat before or after the “normal” meal times. My kids are between eleven and fourteen-years-old, and it still makes me nervous to leave them at a table while I go stand in line at noon that is 15 people deep. During really busy holidays, some restaurants will not let you be seated until you have your food in hand. I can’t imagine standing in a 20-30 minute ordering line with hungry toddlers or three griping teens.
If it’s a popular time to be eating a meal, like noon or 5 p.m., then you’re going to be standing in line for a while. Try lunch at two or dinner at four, and you will notice the lines are shorter.
Last year, my kids and I somehow got distracted riding rides and looked up to realize it was 9:45 p.m., and we had completely missed dinner. We popped into Cosmic Rays, where we had an entire section to ourselves. We were also starved, so the food tasted extra good. My sons said it was the best meal they ever ate.
There’s always pizza delivery to the resorts, which, ordered by cell phone from the back of a Disney bus on the way to your room, will arrive in no time at all.
4) Get there early
Get to the park early and ride your favorite rides first thing. This will save time standing in line later on when the whole world wakes up and arrives at the parks – to stand in line.
I admit it: I am no morning person. I have never seen one rope drop. The traditional Disney planning wisdom is to get there first thing while people like me, who stayed up past closing and then walked around the Contemporary Resort past 2 a.m., sleep in. Late risers like me start arriving around ten or eleven, so get up and get moving.
5) Stay up late
Here is where I am a total expert. Stay up late and ride your favorite rides at the end of the day. We stay until the Magic Kingdom closes, then shop Main Street, U.S.A. until Cast Members are practically asking us to leave. Temps are cool late at night in the summer, and you don’t waste time standing in line for a monorail when the whole world leaves right after Wishes at 10 p.m.
If I had a favorite suggestion for Disney Moms, it would be to enjoy those late night hours after the kids have taken a nap and had a good dinner. Grab a nap yourself.
6) Ride first, then grab a Fastpass
A book I have come to appreciate recently, called Walt Disney World with Kids 2012, points out that you should hop on your favorite ride right when the park opens and get a Fastpass as you exit this ride, because sometimes the Fastpass machines do not start working until up to 30 minutes after the park opens. In other words, don’t run straight for the Fastpass machine when you arrive, but grab one as you sprint, I mean walk, to your next ride.
7) Skip parades and shows
Ride your favorite rides during big shows or parades. Well, that’s common sense for those who have seen the shows and parades multiple times so the newness has worn off. If people are watching shows and parades, while you then won’t see the entertainment, you won’t wait in lines as long either if you just skip the shows altogether.
8) Work those Fastpasses!
Pay attention to start and end times on Fastpasses, because Disney is enforcing these now, and make sure you get your next Fastpass as soon as you are able. Long gone is the time you could pull a 10 a.m. pass from your pocket and use it at 6 p.m. Cast members check the times now, so make sure you are in the right section of the park to use them. Working the Fastpass system will ensure you get your money’s worth from those expensive tickets.
Pay a lot of attention to when your Fastpass says you can get another Fastpass. I have motion sickness issues, so I spend a lot of my time running across the parks to pick up Fastpasses for the kids.
And with a new Fastpass system being tried at the Magic Kingdom, you may save more time in the future by pre-ordering your Fastpasses in advance.
Well, in 2012 when this FASTPASS information was written, this was accurate. In January of 2014, we’re not so sure how the new FastPass+ system is going to work out. It may save you some time, scheduling your 3 passes in advance, but you will only receive three and for just one park per day. So we’ll see…
9) Pick and choose your park well
The size of the park will determine how much time you spend there and how you plan your day. It will take longer to see all of Epcot because it’s huge, and you’ll walk more. It will take less time to see Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios because they are more compact. Everything is usually less crowded than the most popular theme park, the Magic Kingdom, and of course that depends on the day of the week and the time of year. Touringplans.com can give you the heads up on what day is best to see which park and the wait times for rides.
10. Park hop
During off-season times, three of the four parks often close at five or six p.m. If you have Park Hopper tickets or Season passes, now is the time to head over to Epcot, which generally has a later closing time. As long as you aren’t worn out, you’ll make the most of your ticket money by spending longer hours in the parks.
11. Map it out
Never been to Disney or one of the parks before? Study at a map. They are in books and online, and you will save mucho time by not getting lost and wandering around aimlessly. Not getting lost translates into feet that don’t ache as much as well. Knowing where bathrooms are located will save you time.
Head over to Disneyworld.com to order FREE customized park maps.
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Thanks for spending your valuable time with us today, and remember that little Cheapskate Princess tip…just walk faster!
Disney’s Cheapskate Princess