Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A Quick Visit to Disney World

So last month I had the chance to visit Disney World for three days. I'll never be one to turn down a chance to hang out with Mickey at the Magic Kingdom, so even though it was short notice and a short trip, of course I jumped.

My husband and I had talked about doing a "seat of the pants" Disney trip with minimal work ahead of time and few frills- we wouldn't be staying on property,  leave the pin lanyards and autograph book at home, and we wouldn't be doing any fancy dining. I learned that while you can get away without the kind of big planning I did for our 2015 trip, at a minimum you need to pick a park to visit each day, book FastPasses at the 30 day mark and think about a meal or two you'd really like to have. Not too much to worry about.

This stuff saved my bacon for four days outside in the Orlando sun. No joke.
What that did mean was me waking up at 4am one day when I was in California because that was the 30 day mark for one of our park days.  FastPass reservations open at 7am and that means 7am Eastern Standard Time, or very very early California time. I can't say I was happy about the early reveille but what can you do. The Mouse requires some sacrifices.

That being said, this little bit of effort went a long way. We got FastPasses for our favorite rides and even got a breakfast reservation at Kona Cafe, one of my favorite places to eat at WDW, and a dinner there a couple of days later. A good breakfast is essential to take on the Magic Kingdom and the Poly starts any day off right. While we were in Florida we managed to book a nice dinner at Disney Springs for our last night as well.

Yes I drank this entire French Press of Kona coffee on my first day.
Speaking of the Polynesian resort, we used Lyft quite a bit to get around Orlando used the Polynesian resort as our base. This tactic worked well because it was much easier to find our pickup at the resort versus the Magic Kingdom, which is always swamped with ride sharers. I had mixed results with Lyft; some drivers were great and knew their way around while others- well, I think some folks maybe were just new to Orlando and concepts like Disney and SeaWorld proved challenging.  But everyone was courteous and friendly.

But I would definitely recommend Lyft to get around Orlando if you're not staying on property. Disney has its own Lyft-affiliated ride sharing service called Minnie Vans that while pricier than a regular Lyft, includes perks like insider Disney tips from the cast members who drive the vans. Anyone can use the Minnie Vans with the My Disney Experience app.

Please take that advice that has you baking in the sun all day so I can have the park to myself at night.
One big improvement in My Disney Experience over our last trip is that the app now lets you order food online for pickup at some quick-service dining locations. This functionality helped shorten line time and wait time during our visit to the land of Pandora at Animal Kingdom and I wished I'd known about it earlier in our trip. You can also split up Fast Pass parties now so you don't have to do everything with your group.

My overall takeaway from this trip can be summed up in five words: Visit the Parks at Night. I don't care what anyone says about rope drop and how it's essential you get to the parks when they open. But hey. If you listen to that advice and bake all day in sun, I can have short lines and more fun at night. Because OMG Disney is like a carnival at night. It's beautiful and lit up, you get fireworks, you get cooler temperatures and you get a full day's worth of fun if you get there around 3-4pm and go until it closes or you drop. Get your FastPasses for between 3-6pm, do indoor rides while it's still hot and sunny and then play outside until 11pm or later. Shop, get ice creams, go on rides and just generally rock the park at night. I will never go for rope drop again.

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