Saturday, June 30, 2012

Disney's Magic Kingdom- My Magical Secret Tips

A Man with a Dream
The Magic Kingdom really is the "Happiest Place on Earth."  I say that without ceremony or fanfare because I am just stating a fact.  No other place can you see smiling faces while waiting in line with thousands of people in one hundred degree heat.  No other location has patrons spending hundreds of dollars for stuffed animals, princess costumes or mouse ears with wide-toothed grins.  The magic of the Magic Kingdom is, as corny as it sounds, that everyone feels like a kid.  You forget your troubles and worries.  All thoughts of budgets, bills and balancing checkbooks fly out the window while riding Peter Pan's flight.  Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom is a real world manifestation of J.M. Barrie's Neverland.  Inside the park, no one ever grows up.  I know there are those who would beg to differ, but I think even the most hard-nosed adult must admit to the rush of adrenaline at the first site of the castle as he enters Main Street, USA.

Our whole family was fit to be tied as we caught our first glimpse of Cinderella's Castle.  Though Disney has many photographers stationed along the main street to capture that moment for each family, we opted to take our own photo of just the kids.  As I was positioning the children on the crowded street, a kind Disney cast member offered to take our whole family's picture.  If this isn't a picture of happiness, I don't know what is:

The secret to staying happy while at Disney World is to have a plan. So many times I have been there and witnessed families aimlessly strolling through the streets.  You can't do that and accomplish much!  We entered with our game on!  For example, Greg and the kids caught the end of a parade while I rushed to Peter Pan's Flight to get our first fast passes of the day. After shooting our five park tickets into the machine and getting five timed entries for later,  I met a lady attempting to get a fast pass who had no idea how they worked.  I explained, "You place your park ticket in the fast pass machine and it gives you a timed ticket for entry to that ride. It is like the ticket is holding your place in line. You may not get another fast pass until the time marked on the pass.  If your return time is over two hours away, it will usually give you an earlier time to get another fast pass."  She stood and stared at me, then asked, "What am I supposed to do until time for me to ride?"  Now it was my time to stare.  I was thinking, "How did you manage to get here in the first place if you don't have more sense than that?"  But I said, with as little sarcasm as I could, "There are many rides that do not have fast passes.  While you are waiting for your time, go ride one of those."  Again, she stared.  With a look that said, "Good Luck!" (I mean, come on!  It's a fast pass not brain surgery!) I left and hurried to meet my family down the hill at the Haunted Mansion where everyone must wait in line... no fast pass entry, but they had a cool, new interactive graveyard to entertain all while waiting in line.

And so our magical day went... Greg and the kids would maneuver to a ride where we had to wait while I ran to get our next fast passes.  By working together and having a plan, we managed to see and do all the major rides and keep our cool, if not stay cool, at the same time.  Emma rode Space Mountain for her first time and lived to brag about it!  (Although she may still be a little hoarse from all her screaming; I know I am still a little deaf from sitting in front of her.)  When we were hot, we ducked in for a show or a cool water ride.  (Pirates of the Caribbean and It's a Small World rides are always refreshing.)

Getting their sassiness on with Tink
Another secret for a fun day at the park is to be flexible.  Don't feel you must all do the same thing.  Case in point: the girls wanted to meet Tinker Bell at the new Pixie Hollow, but Wyatt and Greg had no interest in seeing fairies so they went to ride something while I waited with Anabel and Emma.  Other times, we felt it important to all try something another suggested.  We had never been to the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor, but Wyatt really wanted to go so we all popped in after the fireworks and laughed till our cheeks hurt.

If you are staying at one of the twenty-one Disney resorts, my final secret tip is to plan your day at the Magic Kingdom for the day with the late night extra magic hours.  During the summer, the Magic Kingdom closes at eleven p.m., but on special nights, it stays open for guests with resort room keys until two in the morning.  We couldn't hang that late, but we did stay until 12:30 to ride several of our favorite rides one more time without any wait.  No fast passes were needed; we just flashed our room keys and hopped in the very short lines.  And the weather was cooler, too!

Tired, but happy kids
With our day in Neverland coming to an end, I began to hear the tick-tock of time chasing us like the alligator stalking Captain Hook.  There is no tired like Disney tired, but even as I fought to put one foot in front of the other to make it back to the hotel I was thinking, "I can't wait to do it all again!" Time to start saving our reward dollars for when the new Fantasyland opens next year... Thank you, Walt Disney, for creating this huge fantasy land for all kids- big and small.  No matter how old we get, we can always be young at heart at the Magic Kingdom.


  1. re: "The secret to staying happy while at Disney World is to have a plan"

    Truer words have never been spoken. Your plan, my plan, somebody else's plan but above all else: A PLAN !


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