Hey everyone! This is my final long installment of the Tips to the Kingdom series 1, today’s topic is a double one, originally I was going to post the activities at WDW with the dining post, but the dining became much longer than I expected! So today I bring you a guide to activities at the WDW resort and tips for avoiding ride lines. I’ll try to keep this brief since I’ve been getting comments about how the posts are too long, what do you guys think? Let’s get started.
There is so much to do at the WDW resort than just the 4 parks! With over 18 resort/hotels, 2 entertainment districts, a sports complex, and 2 water parks you should never be bored here! Let’s say you’re adventurous, you like the thrill of flight and the rush of water sports, than a vacation at Disney can be a haven for you. Most people don’t know you can experience many thrills and chills at Disney outside the parks. Surrounding Disney’s man-made 7 seas lagoon, right under the castle, is the Contemporary Resort with Sammy Duvall’s water-sport rentals. From kayaking through some protected swamp land and rivers through the resort, to parasailing and jet-ski’s the Disney resorts have your back, maybe even rent yourself a private boat? (I’ve done that, it is a blast!). For rentals call 407-939-0754 or visit SammyDuvall.com. Boat rentals can go from 2 person speedboats to family sized boats, and for the couple why not rent your own private yacht and have a 5 star dinner with a firework view? Contact the desk at the Grand Floridian resort for more.
Love nature and more land based thrills? Why not take up archery at the Fort Wilderness? for only 30 some dollars you can take your group for a 90 minute archery experience with professional grade equipment, but book quickly! It’s limited 10 person per day capacity makes it a tough one to book. Couldn’t get into archery? That’s fine, why not stay at the Fort Wilderness and embark on a segway tour of the campgrounds and nature area? Or head over to Animal Kingdom the next morning for a wild africa-trek tour which not only includes lunch in a private cabana in the middle of the savannah but also a private tour of the animals and cross multiple rickety bridges over crocodiles and hippo’s, although this comes with a hefty price. Or if you’re staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge venture out into one of their sunrise safari’s for an authentic safari experience. All of this and more can be booked by simply calling one of Disney’s reservation lines or the Disney website.
If you’re in a family with smaller children, why not take them to one of Disney’s two mini golf courses? the Fantasia Gardens mini golf located near the Boardwalk resort offers a fantasy style themed golfing experience for all ages! The Winter Summerland course over by the Blizzard Beach water park offers a holiday/snow themed golfing experience. For the little princess in the group why not give her the Royal make over? Whether you find yourself under Cinderella’s castle or at the largest Disney store in the world at Downtown Disney take them to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, for a select price turn them into any of the Disney princesses from hair to dress or give your boys the pirate take over at Adventureland in the Magic kingdom park. Or for a little thrill for all ages why not get on a helium balloon and elevate your vacation to new heights? For only $18 venture into the Characters in Flight balloon at Downtown Disney.
Want a cheaper theme park alternative? Why not head over to DisneyQuest at Downtown Disney, this is Disney’s 5 story interactive virtual theme park. Originally a test subject to see if virtual Disney parks would work in major urban centers, this is the only remaining one of the two launched, (the other being in my favorite city, Chicago). This cheaper, but a bit less thrilling option includes my favorites such as virtual space mountain, (board a bright red simulator and feel the loops and drops of ridding through space!), jungle cruise (a thrilling twist on the classic rafting game at arcades that features a real raft and splashing water), and the best pirates of the Caribbean! Board a pirate ship surrounded by 3D screens and fight off attackers. Florida can get pretty hot, so why not cool down at one of 2 water parks, Disney’s typhoon lagoon offers a hurricane stricken Caribbean town with water roller coasters and the largest wave pool in the area, even get to snorkel with baby sharks and stingrays. If the tropics aren’t your scene, head over to Blizzard Beach, Florida’s first melting ski resort featuring one of the tallest water slides in the world and an intense racing slide series of slides all covered in snow! Both of these options are far cheaper than the 4 main parks although they offer earlier closer times and operate under stricter weather restrictions. Purchasing tickets for these options is easy via Disney’s website or at the park.
For the adults and older teens the resort offers many options as well. For a breathtaking display of human ability head over to the big white circus tent at Downtown Disney for one of Cirque Du Soleil’s performances of La Nouba, this show will leave you breathless as acrobats soar to new heights above you, the only other place to get this experience is Las Vegas with Cirque’s other stationary shows. The show can run you around $60+ per person so budget accordingly. While you’re at Downtown head over to Splitsville for bowling in style and great experience at night, or cross the street and dance the night away at Bongos. Check out your travel dates and see if there are any shows at the House of Blues you might like to see. For more of a club like experience head over to the Boardwalk and hit the Atlantic Dance Hall and dance the night away as well or Jellyrolls for an original dueling piano’s experience. In 2016 Disney will unveil a completely new Downtown Disney, re-named Disney Springs which will feature many more 21+ experiences, nothing is solid but perhaps a revival of a Pleasure Island type of area. Or if mini-golf is too mini for you, visit one of Disney’s two award-winning, PGA tour courses, Shades of Green and Osprey golf courses for a professional golfing experience you’ll never forget.
Love shopping? Love Disney merch? Head over to Downtown Disney for some serious damage to your wallet, here you can find everything from the latest music CD’s, to the newest in designer eyewear to everything Disney and even luxury organic bath products, and there is no better place for a lunch break! (Check out my dining guide article for more on that). On a budget of $40 or less? Stick to the cheaper options, the archery experience comes to less than 40 per person, renting kayaks can run you up to 15, or get a group and rent one of the water crafts, going up on Characters in Flight can be reasonable as well. Mini golfing should also not run you back much either.
Disney offers a large array of tours of its parks ranging from $40 to $300+. These tours can go from walking Main Street USA with history to going backstage at all the 4 parks to riding a segway through EPCOT, check some of these tours out for a true once in a lifetime experience. or call 407-WDW-TOUR to book and hear about them all.
Skip the Line:
Disney unlike other parks offers you many ways to not waste your time in lines, how thoughtful! The most adventurous and my favorite is Tom Sawyer Island at Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom park opens at 9am, Tom Sawyer Island in Frontier land opens at 10am, be on the first boat and head over to the island and hunt down one of the alleged paintbrushes, when you find one, take it to your boat captain and he’ll reward you with fast passes for everyone in your group for any ride of your choosing, or ice cream/popcorn for everyone. Disney also offers the fast pass system with your park admission, simply insert your ticket into one of the booths by a fast pass attraction and receive a ticket to return at a certain time frame of an hour. The system works by giving a certain amount of tickets per hour to riders that get priority access during their time frame and get to skip most of the line, however you are only allowed to get one pass per 2 hours to keep things fair. Be aware fast passes can run out for the day early especially in Soaring and Test Track at EPCOT and Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios. Another way to get fast passes is to simply be a nice human being, I’ve actually received multiple fast passes for my group by simply being a nice person to others. Once at Animal Kingdom I was heading to get a birthday pin and saw a handicapped man struggling in his wheel chair with the door, no one seemed to help, so I rushed and got the door for him, the cast member giving me my pin congratulated me on being a good person and gave me two fast passes for my group, you’d be surprised at how rude guest can be at the happiest place on Earth. If you don’t want to rely on fast passes then simply plan your time at the parks appropriately, If you don’t mind missing the shows and parades, use that time as prime low-line time at all major attractions, when the park opens head to your favorite ride first, and try to hit as many as you can within the first and last 2 hours of the parks operating schedule. If you’re a resort guest try extra magic hours for low lines. Think the opposite of your first thought, your first thought might be, ‘lets ride the closest rides first!’ guess what, everyone else thought of that as well, so go to the back of the park quickly to find no lines for a short time. Another great way to only wait around 15-20 minutes max for some of the best rides is the up and coming single rider lines. Single rider is a way to fill seats on ride vehicles that would other wise go empty during the ride, but be aware your group WILL be separated even if it’s smaller children. This is a good thing for families that don’t mind riding separately or groups of friends, and saves a lot of time on popular rides like Test Track and Expedition Everest to name a few. Proper line skipping can be done with proper prior planning, and using apps to track wait times and plan accordingly, the app store offers many free ones, but make sure it is for Disney World and not land. That is my largest advice for avoiding lines, plan before you visit the parks and know your wait times, download the app before you depart and see what the lines are like during the days you’re going and know what you’re gonna do.
Well guys thanks for sticking with me for the first actual series of the blog! It’s been fantastic and I’ve enjoyed writing it for all of you, and I hope you guys enjoyed reading it. I will have my review of Le Cellier and the Keys to the Kingdom tour soon and that article on packing the perfect carry on in the coming weeks and a more in-depth coverage of my Europe trip for the reader who requested! Thank’s everyone and see you soon, adventure is out there!