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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tip Tuesday: Touring the parks without FastPass

With all the recent changes (and glitches) coming to Walt Disney World concerning FastPass+, Magic Bands and all, there are plenty of guests (myself included) who are less then enamored with the implementation of FastPass+.

So it begs the question:  is FastPass+ worth it?  Does it cause more problems that it solves?

While I have yet to experience FastPass+ first hand, I have heard plenty of horror stories about this new service, so I thought I'd share some thoughts about the best ways to enjoy the parks without having to get one FastPass.

Yes, Virginia, it can be done, but it does require some planning.

First, of course, you have to arrive at a park well before park opening -- at least 30 minutes, though 45 might be better for the Magic Kingdom.  While you're waiting for the park to open, you need to set a few priorities when it comes to attractions and/or characters -- which ones are most important to you?  Head to those first.  If you don't have any priorities, consider hitting the headline attractions such as Space Mountain, Soarin', Toy Story Mania or the Kilimanjaro Safaris.  You will have a good hour or two where the crowds will be considerably lower than later in the morning/afternoon.  You need to make good use of this time.

Once the park opens, walk briskly (do not run) to your highest priority attraction and get in the standby line.  The standby sign may indicate a 20 or 30 minute wait.  Go in anyway -- there's a good chance that standby time is not current.  Depending on the standby line, you may be able to get in two runs in short order before moving to the rest of your priority list.

Once the crowds start to build in late morning to early afternoon, it's time to move to the less popular attractions and shows as well as high-volume attractions such as the Haunted Mansion, its a small world, Living with the Land, Seas with Nemo, Star Tours, Muppets 3D, or the Animal Kingdom walking trails.  These attractions can handle a fairly large number of people at one time, so odds are the standby lines will be shorter.

The afternoon into the evening also is a good time to take in some scenery and do a bit of shopping.  Take some time to appreciate all those little Disney details and maybe take in a show or movie or two. 

As the evening fades into night, you'll start to see the crowds begin to thin in some areas, especially as families with young children head home with weary tykes in tow.  At the Magic Kingdom, crowds will start to gather along the parade route for the Main St. Electrical Parade.  Main Street and the Hub area will be especially crowded as people get spots for Wishes.  Avoid these areas if you're not all that interested in the evening entertainment and go hit more attractions.  You'll encounter some waits, but they'll have decreased since the peak of a few hours earlier.  In Epcot, the World Showcase promenade will start to fill with folks waiting for Reflections of Earth.  Same deal -- head to Future World and try to get in a few attractions there.

At Hollywood Studios, it's all about Fantasmic - there will likely be considerable lines at the end of Sunset Boulevard, so just avoid that part of the park.  Yes, the Rockin' Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror might be a bit busy, but the rest of the attractions will start to clear out to some degree -- even Toy Story Mania. 

With a bit of planning, some luck and flexibility, you can have a great day in the parks and not worry one second about getting a FastPass, dealing with return times or having to mess with the My Disney Experience app. 

Just go out and have fun!


Thomas Rieger said...

I feel that I've saved myself a lot of trouble with the pass. Especially in days when it gets really crowded. I've honestly never been there without a fast pass (I'm new to Disney) so I might not be the best to argue about it... But I like to have stuff pre-organised like hotel, passes, day schedule saves you a lot of headaches.

Andrea Leonor said...

I kinda miss having the fastpasses at Disney World. The Fastpass+ was absolutely horrendous. You could only hold three per day on one park, and you have to pre-plan it.

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