Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Top Seven Tips for Spring Break Touring at Walt Disney World

We are in the midst of Spring Break season at Walt Disney World!  Which brings with it a lot of fun, but also lots of guests. 

Spring Break is one of the busiest times of the year for Disney.  It's right behind Christmas Week and Fourth of July.  People come out of the woodwork because the kiddos have off school and well, for many, winter has been awful and cold.  People are just looking for an escape.  

With that being said, I thought I'd give you my Top Seven Tips for Spring Break Touring at Walt Disney World.  Keep in mind that while I'm listing these for Spring Break, really these will work during any busy period of the year.  Hopefully these will help you have a great vacation.

  • Arrive at Rope Drop:  Yep...can't believe these words are coming out of my mouth...given that I'm one who hardly ever makes it to the parks by then.  But honestly, just being there in time for park opening is going to be huge.  You'll be ahead of most of the crowd (who are all like me and slept in) and you'll see attractions with less of a wait.  I know on the days when I've arrived earlier, I've been more successful in touring.  It really is the way to go when touring during the busiest seasons.  
  • Visit the non-Extra Magic Hour park:  For those who don't know, Disney on-site guests have an added perk of being able to take park in something called Extra Magic Hours.  This is where a select park is open one hour earlier or up to two hours later than scheduled park hours. The schedule is listed on Disney's website.  However, for those who are visiting who want to maximize their touring, my best tip is to avoid the park with the Morning Extra Magic Hours.  That is unless you have Park Hoppers and want to visit during the morning, get in a few attractions, and then leave.  Same goes for the Evening offering.  Only visit that park if you plan to Park Hop to it later in the evening. If you are staying off-site, then you want to avoid all Extra Magic Hours like the plague.  They will be busier than the other three parks.
  • Book Advanced Dining Reservations early and eat at off peak hours:  If you want to make sure you get to eat at a Table Service location in the park, make sure to make Advanced Dining Reservations ahead of time (up to 180 days in advance of your trip). You can do so by visiting the Disney Dining Page.  Also, no matter where you dine, either counter service or table service, try to eat during off peak hours.  (This means not at noon for lunch and not at 6 pm for dinner.)  The earlier or later you can go, the better chances you have of getting to eat where you want and not encountering huge crowds. 
  • Take a mid-day break:  If you are staying on-site, consider going back to your hotel room and taking a break.  Swim, nap, eat a meal.  Do whatever you can to just unwind a bit.  Plus, while you are relaxing a bit, everyone else will be in the theme parks, clogging up all the rides.   If you don't want to leave, take in shows, as the wait will not be as heavy and shows will give you the opportunity to sit down in the (usually air conditioned) theater. 
  • Schedule your FastPass+ reservations for in the late afternoon/early evening:  In the morning, if you get to the park early enough, you should be able to get on most attractions with little wait.  If you take my advice and leave during the afternoon (or see shows), you will avoid the major swell of crowds.  This means that when you get back to the park, if you schedule your FastPass+ reservations in the late afternoon/early evening, you will be able to get on the major attractions, while most people are still clamoring to ride them.  You'll just have a lesser wait.
  • Have a plan:  it seems stupid.  You are on vacation, right?  But if you plan out a few of the attractions and meals that you want to enjoy, your vacation will run much smoother and you'll be happier.  You don't have to plan out to the minute detail, but just enough to know what you'll be doing for the day.  There's nothing worse than the, "what do you want to do next?" question while examining your map. (PS:  Shameless friends at TouringPlans have this really cool app called Lines that you should totally check out.  It works so well to help plan your day!)
  • Patience is key:  Yes...there will be a lot of people around you.  And yes, you will likely get stepped on by someone who's not paying attention, or get rammed into by a stroller, or have someone try to stand in front of you during a parade, or leave their trays on a table, or stop in the middle of walking.  It's bound to happen.  You are in a busy place, surrounded by people who don't know where they're going, and don't know necessarily what they are doing.  But, if you put on your patience hat, you will have a much better vacation for yourself.  (And you won't go to jail for punching someone in the face for cutting in front of you in line.)  
A few other minor notes.  Easter Week will see the heaviest crowds usually.  If you can, I would avoid the Magic Kingdom, especially on Easter day.

Also, you've likely been in the tundra for the past six months...don't forget to bring sunscreen.  Nothing is worse than getting that lobster glow on your first day of vacation and then living through the pain.

Overall, you can have a wonderful time at Walt Disney World...even if you travel during the busiest of seasons, like Spring Break.  Because really...would you rather be there or back at home? 

What are your tips for touring during Spring Break?  Let me know in the comments section or on the Facebook page. 

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