Since my almost 4-year-old daughter, Mae, started her obsession with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Tangled, Monsters Inc., and pretty much everything else Disney, I’d been looking forward to our first trip to Disney World, especially the Magic Kingdom, which she considers home to all her favorite friends. But while today’s Disney still features a lot of the rides I loved when I was her age, the process of visiting them seems to have become exponentially more complicated . . . and expensive.
We debated how best to introduce Mae to the magic of Disney, but since we were already going to be in Florida (a couple hours south of Orlando) over Winter break, we decided to couple the trips and hit the park in one whirlwind day. It took some planning, but all in all, I think it was the perfect first Disney experience.
Here’s what I learned from our trip.
- Prioritize and strategize well in advance. For a 3-year-old, the Magic Kingdom is the Holy Grail, so we focused on spending as much time there as possible. That meant getting on the road before the sun came up so we could arrive close to the park’s 8 a.m. opening, when ride wait times are much lower. We also decided to stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, which is a quick 10-minute walk to the Magic Kingdom and the first stop back on the monorail. It was a pricey decision, yes, but worth it because we didn’t waste any time on transportation.
- Book everyone’s FastPass+ ASAP. If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you’ll get one of those nifty MagicBands, which entitle you to score FastPass+ reservations (they let you skip the general line) for three attractions 60 days before you arrive. Use these wisely. On the day we went, the longest waits were, by far, for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, for Peter Pan’s Flight, and (shocker) to meet Anna and Elsa. I scored FastPass+ for both rides but missed the boat for Anna and Elsa, even though I booked our reservations about an hour after my window opened. Instead, I reserved a time to meet Cinderella and Rapunzel, another hot ticket.
Try to make all of your FastPass+ reservations as early in the day of your visit as you can. Once you use all three, you’ll be able to hit up one of the FastPass+ kiosks in the park and make additional reservations. Since our three reservations were all between 9:45 and 12:50, we had plenty of time to score two more of those golden tickets, which allowed us to skip the lines at the Little Mermaid and Winnie the Pooh rides. Tip: if the…
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