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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Making your way around the World

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday.

One of the best things about visiting Walt Disney World is the fact that there's so much to do in many different places. A challenge created by this plethora of activities is how to get to where you want to go. Disney has a great, free transportation system for on-property guests. This system is made up of buses, boats and even the monorail.

There is a bit of an art to finding the best and fastest way to go from here to there and which option you choose may depend on where you currently are, where you're going and how quickly you have to get there.

Like so many other things at Walt Disney World, getting around in the World takes a little bit of planning to avoid potential problems.

Let's look at one possible scenario. It is 7 a.m. and you're staying at one of the Epcot area deluxe resorts. You have an 8:30 a.m. ADR at Chef Mickey's (located at the Contemporary Resort). You don't have a car and have to rely on Disney transportation - what do you do? Epcot opens has early Magic Hours, so it opens at 8 a.m., but the Magic Kingdom opens at 9 a.m.

You have a couple of options. First, you can wait for a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then either walk to the Contemporary or take the resort monorail. Second, you can walk through Epcot and then take the Epcot monorail and transfer to the resort monorail loop.

You have 90 minutes and the clock is ticking.

Let's look at each option.

1. Bus to the Magic Kingdom and then get to the Contemporary:
This option has some potential pitfalls. First, standard bus service to the Magic Kingdom doesn't begin until one hour before park opening (8 a.m., in this scenario) and usually arrive about every 20 minutes. This means you would only have 30 minutes to get from your resort to the Magic Kingdom and then hustle to the Contemporary. That's pretty tight and depends greatly on a bus arriving in a timely manner.

All is not lost, however. Disney does run "character breakfast" buses to the Magic Kingdom starting at 7 a.m. that run every 15 minutes. You will want to verify with the driver that the bus is going to the Magic Kingdom or the Contemporary (these buses can take you directly to another resort). You can catch this bus with plenty of time to spare to make your ADR. You will have to get to the bus stop no later than 7:30 a.m. to make sure you have enough time to get to Chef Mickey's.

2. Go through Epcot to the monorail station and take the resort loop:
This option is good if you're unsure about the bus service. The downside to this option is that you will have to be at Epcot's International Gateway by 7:45 a.m. to get into the park as soon as possible. Once you make it through the bag check and turnstiles, you'll have to hustle through half of World Showcase, through Future World and to the monorail station.

Once you catch the Epcot monorail (which probably will be pretty empty), you will still have to
transfer to the resort monorail loop with stops at the Polynesian, Grand Floridian and Magic Kingdom before your stop at the Contemporary. It's probably a little tight to do all that in 30 minutes. I've pulled this off before, but I had to hustle.

All in all, I'd suggest option 1. You have to make sure you're at the bus stop with plenty of time to spare.
This gets to the heart of this week's tip: Lead time.

No matter where you're trying to go, you have to allow plenty of time to get there. Doing so means you have enough time should a bus run late, or be delayed loading/unloading several handicapped guests or whatever. A good rule of thumb is one hour. If you have to be somewhere, you should allow one hour to get there.
This being said, you do have some other, more "creative" options to get around the World.
A few did you knows:
  • Did you know you can walk between Epcot and the Studios? Walking briskly, you can get from one park to another in about 15-20 minutes (I've done it).

  • Did you know you can walk from the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom? After that great breakfast at Chef Mickey's, it's far faster to simply walk to the Magic Kingdom entrance than take the monorail all the way around the Seven Seas Lagoon to reach the Magic Kingdom. It takes 5-10 minutes at the most.

  • Did you know that it can be faster to take a launch to the Grand Floridian than to take the resort monorail (after standing in line)? If you time it right, you can catch a launch and get to the Grand Floridian by the time the monorail is at the TTC.

  • Did you know that the Friendship boats have three stops between Epcot and the Studios? From Epcot to the Studios, these boats stop at (in order): The Boardwalk, The Yacht/Beach Club and the Swan/Dolphin. Depending on where you're going, you might be better to get off at an earlier stop and walk the rest of the way.

  • Did you know that no WDW transportation goes directly to the two miniature golf courses? This doesn't mean you're out of luck. If you want to go to Fantasia Gardens, simply take a bus to the Swan/Dolphin. If you want to go to Winter Summerland, take a bus to Blizzard Beach.
The next time you head to Walt Disney World, take a moment to make sure you know how you're going to get where you want to go. If all else fails, you can always rent a taxi. You'll pay for it, but sometimes it's the best option.

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