As Spring and Summer are just around the corner, that means Spring Break and Summer Vacation and many guests making pilgrimages to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Actually, many will be visiting for the first time ever! If you are planning your very first visit to the park, and you’re like me, you’ve probably been doing your Disney World homework to avoid those rookie mistakes and hopefully maximize that precious vacation time. Still, oftentimes, they are a few things that aren’t mention in guidebooks which could’ve made your park time run more smoothly. So please glean from my first-hand experience Disney World Rookies and discover what I wish I knew before my trip to the Magic Kingdom.
Meeting Rapunzel at Princess Fairytale Hall
Characters Can Be Found at the End of a Line
While I love Disney commercials, they aren’t exactly a realistic representation of what it’s like in the parks. First of all, there are almost always people pretty much everywhere. Those shots in the commercial where the happy people seem to have the parks all to themselves? Not real. This is also true of how you meet Disney Characters. Very rarely does a character suddenly appear and surprise you with a hug. You see, at Walt Disney World, characters are escorted by a Cast Member to a designed spot and then guests wait in line for a little conversation, an autograph, and a picture or two. Now that doesn’t mean that meeting characters isn’t fun or memorable. It absolutely is! But it’s just not as spontaneous as it appears on those promos.
Always Ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight First
The Magic Kingdom has the most attractions of any other Disney World Park and many of them are extremely popular and absolute must-dos for first timers. However, something you definitely will wish you knew is that two Magic Kingdom attractions in particular are notorious for ridiculously long lines and they are the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight. Of course, the solution for anyone who has done their Disney World homework is to book a FastPass+ reservation for these attractions. But if none are available, or you just want to experience them again, you should definitely ride them first. Now I don’t mean you should ride them first whenever you happen to arrive at the park. No, I’m saying you need to ride them as soon as the park opens.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the park’s newest attraction and a hybrid between a tame coaster and a dark ride. The ride vehicles also sway slightly when going around corners, just like an actual mine car. All of the detail, technology, and just the fact that it’s a large, new attraction mean that the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train queue is filled from the first half hour of the day until fireworks at night; and so, I strongly encourage first timers to head here first thing when the park opens.
After Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, guests should most definitely make tracks to the other side of Fantasyland to experience Peter Pan’s Flight. This attraction was an opening day attraction back in 1971, and was inspired by Disneyland’s version which was also an opening day attraction there in 1955. Basically, Peter Pan’s Flight is timeless and will fill up the lines until the end of time. Personally, I don’t even think of getting in line for Peter Pan’s Flight once the park has been open for more than an hour, so definitely plan to ride it when the park opens.
Taking a boat to the Magic Kingdom
You Can’t Drive There
It’s true. You can’t exactly drive to the Magic Kingdom. There’s no way you can drop off your family near the gate and go find a parking spot and there’s no tram. Actually, if you’re planning on driving around Walt Disney World and want to go to the Magic Kingdom, you will have to park your vehicle at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). It’s located next door to the Polynesian Village Resort and is all the way across the lake from the Magic Kingdom. It’s basically the transportation hub of the Walt Disney World Resort. Here, guests have the choice to take a boat or Monorail to the Magic Kingdom entrance. Tip: If you are planning on taking a Monorail, choose the Express Monorail to the Magic Kingdom to bypass stops at the resorts.
The only exception to the no-traffic access in front of the Magic Kingdom is Disney Buses. Disney Buses are the only form of Disney Transportation that can drive Disney World Resort guests to the Magic Kingdom and drop them off near the entrance at designated bus stops. This is why many Disney World Resort guests who have a car or rental car choose to use the Disney Buses or Resort Monorails when heading to the Magic Kingdom for the day. So yeah, this is something you will want to know before your first trip to the Magic Kingdom.
It’s been a little over a month since I left Europe behind, but I’ve still got a wealth of international Disney fun left that want to share. I’ve already raved about the walk-through attractions at Disneyland Paris, but today we’re taking a hard look at some of the park’s rides and shows. Every hardcore Disney fan has probably already heard about the Paris park’s unique takes on Disneyland originals like Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion (a.k.a. Phantom Manor). However, you may not know about some other Anaheim originals that have also migrated across the Atlantic, and mutated along the way. Just in case you can’t afford to fly off to France to see them for yourself, here’s a video head-to-head comparing four Disneyland Paris attractions against their Disneyland equivalents.
Disneyland Storybook Land Canal Boats vs. Disneyland Paris Le Payes des Contes de Fees
One of the oldest operating attractions at Disneyland, Fantasyland’s Storybook Land Canal Boats benefit greatly from exquisite horticultural design and live narration.
Disneyland Paris has the superficially similar Le Payes des Contes de Fees, but it replaces the human guide with recorded music, and the agricultural detail isn’t nearly as meticulous.
Rope Drop: A term referring to the time at which a Disney theme park opens.
Making It To Rope Drop With Young Kids: The seemingly unreachable goal attempted by many enthusiastic parents visiting Disney World.
See also: crying children, stressed-out parents, the impossible dream
If you are planning a Disney World vacation you’ve probably already heard the all important tip…”If you do nothing else, you must make it to Rope Drop!” Frequent visitors to Disney World will tell you that those first two hours of the day in the parks are absolutely critical to maximizing your vacation fun. If you are anything like most of us parents after you heard this, you thought to yourself…”How the heck am I supposed to get my entire family up, ready, fed, out the door, and to the park so early in the morning? This is never going to happen!” Well, stress not, fellow parent! Follow these simple tips for an easier morning and an awesome viewing spot up front at the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show.
Now, I’m going to assume since you are a reader of TouringPlans that you are not opposed to planning. I sure hope so, because making rope drop with young kiddos in tow takes a fair amount of effort in advance. But believe me, when you walk right on Peter Pan with no wait, you’ll be so glad you did the work!
Preparing For Rope Drop Before You Leave Home
Believe it or not, making rope drop starts before you even leave home. Some good advanced prep work and packing is the key first step. Now grab yourself some Ziploc bags and let’s get busy!
As avid Disney fans know, the Unofficial Guide recommends arriving at the gate of Walt Disney World’s theme parks 30–40 minutes before park opening during mid-summer months, and 45–60 minutes before park opening during the holiday season. The introduction of FastPass+ into touring strategies, however, may lead some to question whether arriving this early, i.e., for rope drop, is as important as it used to be. After all, if you can make your attraction selections in advance, why go through the “hassle” of arriving at the crack of dawn?
Though I would argue getting to the parks early is important for all guests, this article will examine why it is especially important for offsite guests. I’ll identify some of the benefits to “rope-dropping” as an offsite guest, and encourage you to at least give rope drop a try during your next Walt Disney World experience.
Moments before rope drop at Disneyland Park (all photos by Seth Kubersky)
If you’ve been following us at Touring Plans for a while, you already know the first and most important step on any Disneyland itinerary: arrive at the front gate early (at least 40 minutes before opening during busy seasons) with your tickets in hand.
But what do you do first once you’re through the turnstiles? People have their own traditions for where to head first at the Happiest Place on Earth. Here are five of my favorite ways to kick off my day at Disneyland Park.