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“That all looks very cool and interesting, but there’s no way I’m skipping out of the theme parks in the middle of the day for a nap. I paid all that money, and I’m not going to sleep it away.”
It’s at that point that I chuckle heartily at these people, and begin to explain to them exactly what this post is all about – that the afternoon nap is a key to your Walt Disney World success, and will, in fact, enhance your touring, not diminish it.
Let’s start with a simple premise: Len Testa and the TouringPlans.com team are smarter than you or I, at least when it comes to figuring out the best way to avoid waiting in line. They have computers running 24/7 to figure this stuff out, and every Touring Plan is based on hard data, not sticking their finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. These plans are proven to work, so if they suggest taking a break for an afternoon nap, there is a good reason to do so.
So how does it work? Pick a Touring Plan like the Two Day Dumbo-Or-Die Plan. Step 12 in the plan is to leave the park and rest for at least three hours. Then, you return to the park for more attractions and dinner. Some of the adult Touring Plans do not require a nap or a break, but you’ll notice that they do feature some of the less popular attractions during that 12-4 period. For example, the One Day Touring Plan for Adults from the Unofficial Guide has you seeing the Jungle Cruise, Enchanted Tiki Room, Swiss Family Treehouse, Hall of Presidents, and Country Bear Jamboree during this period. None of these attractions is going to be very crowded, and they all allow you to sit.
The key to this is the traffic patterns of the Magic Kingdom, or really any of the Walt Disney World theme parks. Crowds tend to build steadily throughout the morning period, meaning that if you arrive early for rope drop, tour through the morning up until lunch and then take a break, you are staying ahead of most of the crowd. By being there when the park opens, your touring is ahead of 90% of the park’s attendance for the day. However, once you reach lunchtime, the park is as busy as it will be for the entire day. After lunch, through mid-afternoon, there is no real way to get an advantage over other guests. This is the whole key behind the afternoon nap.
The idea the team has put forward is that if you get up at rope drop, tour rather rapidly during the morning, then plan to see fireworks or evening parades, you are most likely not going to enjoy your afternoon sweating to death in the park to see the Enchanted Tiki Room. What’s more likely to work is to take a break from the park, rest, take a nap or a swim, then come back later. It’s all about the economics laws of diminishing returns: the longer you are in the park, the less you enjoy the attractions and you are less likely to return.
But the proof is in the pudding. Last year, when I took my children by myself (in a fit of idiocy), I had three days at the parks. We got up every single morning to be on hand for rope drop. By around 1 p.m. each day, the enthusiasm was definitely waning. The first day, we powered through it, because we wanted to see the events of Star Wars Weekends. That was probably a mistake, because by the time the Hyperspace Hoopla came around, I had two grumpy children, and ended up having to carry my youngest child back to the car.
The next day, we did rope drop again, this time at Epcot. After a nice morning with many attractions under our belt, we left around 2 p.m. on a very hot day and went over to the pool for a swim. We spent 3-4 hours out of the parks on what was only a 3-day trip. Sure, we could have stayed and done things like Ellen’s Energy Adventure, but the pool time was just what the doctor ordered. After a poolside dinner, a nice swim, and a quick change of clothes, we were all rested and refreshed, and made it until Wishes that same night at the Magic Kingdom.
The bottom line is that the afternoon “nap” doesn’t have to be a drag on your vacation time. It will, in fact, enhance your vacation by having you spend more time in the parks in the evenings, when heat is less of a concern, and you’ll be more rested for your trip. I was a skeptic, but after comparing results with my two kids, I am sold. Yes, it’s a huge drag to walk out of the theme parks when it feels like there is so much to see and do. But trust me, when you come back, you’ll feel ten times better, and be ready to go for the evening festivities.
What about you? Have you tried the afternoon nap? How did it work out for you?