Disney World Nighttime Entertainment

**Disclaimer: This information is going to change in early 2017 as we are expecting the opening of River of Light, the new nighttime show at Animal Kingdom. We are also awaiting the future schedule of the Star Wars fireworks at Hollywood Studios as well as a parade as the Magic Kingdom as the Main Street Electrical Parade has left Disney World. Stay tuned for further information, but for now we will let this guide you on the events that we have a historical perspective on.

One of the toughest things to plan on your itinerary is the evening entertainment that takes place at the parks. We are speaking of Wishes at the Magic Kingdom, IllumiNations at Epcot, and Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios. The nighttime entertainment options are some of the highlights for many people on their Disney World vacation, but these can also cause some of the biggest headaches for people when it comes to an itinerary. You want to have these great moments with your family, but you also want to make sure you are rested enough to make it through these late nights. Remember, we also think you should probably have a sleep in morning scheduled the day after one of these late nights. Below we will give some things to know about each of the major nighttime events at Disney World and how you can expect to handle them within your itinerary.


  • Wishes is the evening fireworks that is going to take place every night at the Magic Kingdom with very few exceptions.
  • A majority of guests will want to view Wishes from the hub or on Main Street USA and unlike a parade, which goes through other lands, these are the only places that have great views of the fireworks as they are designed to be viewed from head on. If you want to view Wishes from these areas you will need to move into a location a early as possible, sometimes as much as two hours ahead of time in extremely crowded times of year. If a nighttime parade returns to the Magic Kingdom that may slightly change things as most guests who were viewing the parade will just stay in their spots for Wishes, so not a ton of spots will open up prior to the fireworks, except the spots in the street itself. Just prepare yourself to be in a large crowd and have to find a spot for your family.
  • The redesign of the entire hub area has drastically improved viewing the fireworks, but we do have some spots that we recommend that may give you a good viewing location, while battling the crowds a little less. There is a path that leads from The Plaza Restaurant to Tomorrowland and this path sometimes has nice spots available a little closer to show time. You are still going to need to move into a spot on the rail and save the spot for 30 minutes, but at least with a rail there you won’t have anyone working their way in front of you. There are also some spots usually around the train station. People crowd towards the castle after the parade and usually leave some space around the train station. This is actually good as you are going to be able to get out of the exits the fastest once the fireworks are over.
  • Another option is the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party, but they’ve recently increased the price of this. This party is around $79 per adult and $47 per child, and can vary slightly during certain times of year. This party includes a reserved table at the Tomorrowland Terrace, all you can eat desserts, and a nice view of the firework, but keep in mind you most likely will still have to stand along the railing of the restaurant in order to see the full fireworks show. We wouldn’t recommend this on every trip, but if you are planning a once in a lifetime trip or want a great view without battling crowds this is a good option. Disney has also recently released a similar experience in one of the grassy areas in the hub called the Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing. You still get the dessert party at the Tomorrowland Terrace, but then you are escorted to a standing room only section of the hub. The price is $59 per adult and $35 per child.
  • FP+ is also available for Wishes in the hub area. You will need to pre-book this as it will rarely be available as a 4th FP+ option on the day of. Just make sure it is worth it for you to use a FP+ on this.
  • Finally, there are always some great locations outside of the park to watch Wishes. Around the Magic Kingdom boat docks and ferry boat station provides a pretty good view. The beach at the Polynesian Village Resort is also a popular spot, although they sometimes restrict access during busy times of year. There is also a viewing deck on the 4th floor of the Contemporary Resort or if you plan a reservation at California Grill you get access to their viewing deck on the top floor on the night of your reservation.

IlllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

  • IllumiNations at Epcot is a great show, especially for teens and adults, but all ages can enjoy it. It is set around the World Showcase lagoon making it the easiest nighttime show at any of the parks to get a great spot for without much of a wait. With that said it is sometimes tricky to find a great spot for a few reasons. First, there are small islands with trees at points in the lagoon, so make sure wherever you end up to view the show you don’t have one of those in between you and the middle of the lagoon. Second, make sure you are not downwind. This show produces a large amount of smoke and if the wind is blowing towards you not only will you be in a lot of smoke, but it makes it a little more difficult to see what is going on.
  • We recommend find a spot between 30-45 minutes before the show at most times of year if you want a spot right on the rail. If you don’t mind being a few people deep you can wait until closer to showtime, but you will have to see over people.
  • La Hacienda de San Angel (Mexico), Rose and Crown (UK), and Spice Road Table (Morocco) all have lake side seating, but require a dinner reservation. Make a reservation for 75-90 minutes before the show and it is a great view. Also, La Cantina de San Angel, the counter service in Mexico, has a patio over the water that is a great view, but those spots go very early, usually 90 minutes to 2 hours before the show.
  • The Future World side of the lagoon fills up the quickest as people want to get out of the park after it is over, so the time to line up here would be much more than 30 minutes ahead of the start time. The opposite (south) side of the World Showcase lagoon usually is not near as crowded and you can usually find spots 20-30 minutes prior to showtime. Just keep in mind on that side you have more islands and trees in the way so make sure you are aware of where you end up.
  • As far as getting out of the park just know it can get very crowded at the front gate on both the monorail and the bus system. The waits can be very long, so we recommend if you have to exit that way and were on the south side of the World Showcase take your time getting out. Stop in some shops and take your time and maybe the lines will lessen a little bit on your way. If you are staying at an Epcot area resort you can exit the International Gateway and head to your resort.
  • Finally, FP+ is available for IllumiNations, but it is a tier 1 FP, which means if you book it you would not be able to use a FP on Frozen Ever After, Test Track or Soarin’ on that day. Also, the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party is available for $49 per adult and $29 for children. This party includes a viewing location in the World Showplace Plaza with desserts and wine, but there is no seating.


  • Fantasmic! is one of the best nighttime shows for the ultra-immersive environment that it puts guests into. This show, located in an amphitheater off of Sunset Boulevard, uses live actors, pyrotechnics, water screens, and floats to create a very memorable show. Being in an amphitheater though means seating is limited and it can be very hard to get into and out of due to the thousands of people trying to do the same thing at the same time.
  • Fantasmic! is presented nightly for most of the year, although there are a few less crowded times when it may only be 3-4 nights per week. Also, Disney adds a 2nd showing at crowded times and just like other nighttime events the 2nd showing is always less crowded and easier to get into if you can handle staying up later into the night.
  • FP+ is available for Fantasmic!, but it is not all that useful as you still have to arrive 30-45 minutes early to get a seat and the seats are not that great as they are off to one end of the amphitheater.
  • The Fantasmic! Dinner Package, at Mama Melrose, Hollywood Brown Derby, and 50’s Prime Time Cafe is a good deal. With your dinner you get reserved seating at Fantasmic! Like the FP+ you still need to arrive early, although not as much in advance, from 25-35 minutes for this and the seats for the dinner packages are right in the middle of the amphitheater.
  • If you are not using the dinner package or a FP+ you need to get in line for Fantasmic! at least an hour in advance and more at very crowded times of year. The line will run almost the entire length of Hollywood Boulevard, so jump in line early and be ready for a hectic entry into the amphitheater. If using the 2nd show time you should enter the theater as soon as you can after the previous show ends. This is probably be around 30 minutes before the 2nd show, although a line may still form on Hollywood Boulevard so make sure you keep an eye on that area.

Let us know if you can think of any other questions about nighttime entertainment that we didn’t answer above and we’ll be happy to help you out.

Lysa’s Christmas at Disney World Pre-Trip Report – Episode 17

In this week’s episode, for December 18, 2016, we will be getting a full pre-trip report for Lysa’s upcoming Christmas trips to Disney World as well as taking your listener questions on Disney travel.

Please send any questions about the show to host@mousedreamsblog.com and visit our website, www.MouseDreamsBlog.com for more information. Also, like our Facebook page at Facebook.com/MouseDreamsblog and follow us on Twitter @MouseDreamsBlog.

Finally, thanks to our sponsors and friends at Big Dreams Travel, an Authorized Disney Travel Planner. Visit them at www.bigdreamstravelusa.com to help with your next vacation.

You can submit Disney trip planning questions for us to answer on the show by e-mailing us at podcast@MouseDreamsBlog.com, by tweeting your question to @MouseDreamsBlog on Twitter, or by visiting the listener questions page on our website at www.MouseDreamsBlog.com/podcastquestions. We would love to answer your questions on travel including Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise Line. Have a great week everyone and thanks for listening!

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Jon’s Summer Disney World Trip – Episode 15

cropped-NEW-Icon-Edit-A.jpgIn this week’s episode, for November 20, 2016, we will be discussing Jon’s most recent summer trip to Disney World.

Please send any questions about the show to host@mousedreamsblog.com and visit our website, www.MouseDreamsBlog.com for more information. Also, like our Facebook page at Facebook.com/MouseDreamsblog and follow us on Twitter @MouseDreamsBlog.

Finally, thanks to our sponsors and friends at Big Dreams Travel, an Authorized Disney Travel Planner. Visit them at www.bigdreamstravelusa.com to help with your next vacation.

You can submit Disney trip planning questions for us to answer on the show by e-mailing us at podcast@MouseDreamsBlog.com, by tweeting your question to @MouseDreamsBlog on Twitter, or by visiting the listener questions page on our website at www.MouseDreamsBlog.com/podcastquestions. We would love to answer your questions on travel including Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise Line. Have a great week everyone and thanks for listening!

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How to Handle Crowds in Disney Parks

Castle CloudyTry as I may, there’s really no way to successfully argue that the Disney World crowds during peak seasons are not that big of a deal. They’re a big deal. No doubt that traveling to the most magical of destinations during the summer, the ever-increasingly-popular Fall (with Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party) or Christmas/New Years can cause your stress levels to rise just at the mere thought of it. However, those are some of the best times to make memories! Pools and waterparks, trick or treating at Magic Kingdom, scrumptious food and wine festivities and the fairy tale world of Christmastime–these are times that should not be ruled out just because there are several more thousand crazy mouse lovers there with you!

While it can be tricky, navigating these popular times is absolutely doable and magical! Check out the following list of helpful hints and tips!

Stay on property
Although I believe that staying in a Disney resort is always the best idea, there are occasions where families will rent condos, stay with friends or try a discount hotel to save money. Peak season is not the time for that! The travel time to and from property wastes valuable minutes, not to mention the extra parking fees and the chance you could always get lost! The Disney transportation system, whether by bus, monorail or boat, takes you right to the heart of the action!

Utilize Extra Magic Hours
Those early morning or late night hours for Disney guests can provide guests opportunities to knock out several attractions! Sleeping in and enjoying easy mornings are wonderful if you’re on a cruise or at the beach. When you’re at Disney during peak seasons, it’s all about rising and heading to the parks! Grab a granola bar and arrive at the parks about 30 minutes before the Magic Hour opening. You could quite possibly ride 3-4 rides in an hour! Now, by the time lunchtime hits, the park that had the Extra Magic Hour will probably be extra crowded, so head home. Eat at your resort, take a nap, swim and then head back to a park. You could even leave one park and head straight to another that didn’t have Extra Magic Hour. Chances are that park won’t be as crowded. Don’t forget the late Extra Magic Hours! You can knock out several attractions that last hour after fireworks when people start to head home!

Park Hop
I am not always a fan of park hopping, but during the busy seasons, it can be a life saver! Utilizing parks just for their Extra Magic Hour and then hopping to another park can prove very efficient to your conquering of the parks!

Fast Passes
Use those Fast Passes! Select those Fast Passes 60 days out! Do not wait until the car is packed and you’re heading east on I-10 to make those selections. Get to the parks at opening, and ride, ride, ride. Crowds are smallest in the morning, so no need to use Fast Passes before noon!  Make your Fast Passes for early afternoon when things begin to get crazy. Then, once those initial 3 are used, use Fast Passes on every ride you can! Why wouldn’t you??

Ride Instead of Watch
People flock to the streets to line up for parades and fireworks. Take advantage of that and hit some attractions. If you want to watch parades or evening shows, always choose the latest times.

Have a Plan
I picture my dad in socks and sandals, pulling out a map in the middle of Main Street pondering which direction we should point ourselves. Um, not these days! You must go with a plan! Websites, My Disney Experience, blogs, experienced friends and Authorized Disney Vacation Planners (like me!) can help you design a plan of attack for your vacation during these times.

Be Flexible
Ok, now that you have a plan, be flexible enough to stray from it just a bit! It is so essential to tour Disney with a plan, yet it is even more crucial to not be locked into that plan. Sometimes things don’t work out according to plan. A ride will break down. Cranky pants will needs nap to save everyone’s sanity. Dad loses his glasses on Space Mountain and must search now for them. Or the crowds will just be too much. Be willing to bend for the sake of everyone’s enjoyment and your ultimate success of your vacation. Magic happens in the World, but sometimes you must work for it and give just a little.

Use an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner
Hey, we love what we do! Planning vacations aren’t overwhelming to us, it’s fun! Each family is unique and your vacation plans should be tailored to the personalities in your family. The services of a Disney travel planner are free and we are committed to you having the very best Disney experience possible!

5 Steps to Plan Your Disney World Itinerary

Cinderella CastleOne of the most daunting tasks of planning a Disney vacation is planning your trip itinerary. For this reason we have developed a five step process to help get you started on your itinerary. If you haven’t read our post on Principles of Itinerary Planning or the Nuts and Bolts of a Good Itinerary they are a nice introduction to the Disney itinerary topic if this is your first time planning a Disney vacation. Of course we always recommend using a travel agent like our friends at Big Dreams Travel to help plan your trip as they should always be able to help with your itinerary. Or in the case of Big Dreams Travel they will write a complete itinerary for you if you so desire. This itinerary process may not be the perfect solution in all situations, but it is a great place to start, especially if you are planning your first Disney vacation. Of course, you will need to make some tweaks and adjustments once you get your initial plan on paper (or in most cases a spreadsheet), but this should give you a nice plan to start with. We do recommend keeping these steps in order for the best results.

  1. Arrival Day Should Be Easy – The initial day of any vacation is almost always going to be very tiring due to the travel involved and that a lot of times it started with an early morning. For that reason we always recommend taking it easy after your arrival at Disney World. We think the best thing to do is spend a nice, restful evening getting to know your resort. That way you can turn in to bed early and be well rested for your first full day and rope drop! If you get in early enough that you want to go to Disney Springs for a meal and some shopping that is a good option, we just really recommend turning in early on the arrival day. So when it comes to planning your itinerary we say start with planning how you want to spend that arrival day, and keep it easy!
  2. Decide How Many Rope Drops for Each Park – We find that the next step that helps get the plan off to a good start is to set up your rope drops. Remember our blog post on principles of itinerary planning and how we said for every 2 rope drop days we recommend 1 sleep in and restful morning. So for a 6 day stay we recommend 4 rope drops and 2 sleep in days. With four rope drop days it is pretty easy to say you want one day in each park, but again it depends on your family and what is important to you.
  3. Decide on Nighttime Entertainment – The next step will be to decide on what evenings you want to take in the nighttime entertainment, such as Wishes, the Main Street Electrical Parade, IllumiNations, the Star Wars Fireworks, Rivers of Light, or Fantasmic. Remember we think you should plan these options on nights preceding one of your sleep in mornings. You may also want to spend some time in these parks in the evenings and these are great times to do it because you should have nothing to wake up for in the morning.
  4. Plan Your Rest Time – We spoke of the importance of this in our blog post on principles of itinerary planning and this is the next step you need to complete in your itinerary planning process. Now that you have most of your parks planned each day as well as your nighttime entertainment you need to go through and make sure you have rest periods planned. We recommend the afternoon breaks after a rope drop morning so you can get some rest and relaxation on those days you were up a little earlier. We also think you should have a night or two per week of your trip where you are off during the evening to just enjoy your resort hotel or take in a nice dinner reservation at another resort. Whatever you do, make sure you have rest time planned each and every day of your trip.
  5. Add Dining Plans – Prior to making your itinerary we recommend having a list of table service dining reservations that your family thinks they will enjoy, or if you are veterans, restaurants that you know you love! If you have this list it is easy at this step in the itinerary process to plug those dining reservations into your plan. If you have meals in theme parks you can plug them in for lunch or dinner the days you are in those parks. If you have meals you would like to do in resorts you can plan those for the evenings where you are planning to rest and get to bed early. Bottom line plugging your dining reservations in should be simple now that your itinerary is laid out. If you do need to move one or two things around on the itinerary to make a certain reservation work that is certainly fine to do, just make sure you don’t violate any of the principles we have already discussed when doing it. For some ideas or to view reviews of dining at Disney World visit our Dining Page.

At this point your itinerary should be pretty well laid out. Now, are you going to need to make some minor changes once you make sure you can get all of your dinner reservations, yes, most likely, but it is nothing to worry about. Just keep the principles in your mind and your itinerary will be great!

As always, if you have any questions leave a comment below and we will stop by and do our best to answer them for you.

Extra Magic Hours Update at Epcot

Spaceship Earth at Night (CC)With the opening of Frozen Ever After and Royal Sommerhus in the past few weeks the lineup of Extra Magic Hours attractions at Epcot has been updated to include both of those attractions. The park also added Turtle Talk with Crush and The Seas with Nemo and Friends to the morning lineup. Here is the current list of all Extra Magic Hours Attractions at Epcot:

Morning EMH
Frozen Ever After
Living with the Land
Royal Sommerhus
Spaceship Earth
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Turtle Talk with Crush
Test Track

Evening EMH
Character Spot (Until 15 minutes prior to park closing)
Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival
Frozen Ever After
Gran Fiesta Tour
Journey Into Imagination with Figment
Living with the Land
Mission: Space
O Canada!
Royal Sommerhus
Spaceship Earth
Test Track
The American Adventure (9:45 PM & 10:20 PM)
The Circle of Life
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Turtle Talk with Crush (Last Show 20 minutes prior to park closing)

Understanding All of the Important Reservation Dates

Trip Planning Tuesday CastleAs you begin the planning of your Disney World vacation there are several important dates that you need to be aware of. We recommend booking your resort package or room only reservation as far in advance as you can. Having a reservation on the books will give you a way to make dining reservations in advance of the general public, which can be a big advantage with those hard to get reservations. Also, it is important to remember just because you are booked into a certain package does not mean you cannot get a discount if one is released. If a package discount or room only discount is released after you have booked your trip you just need to call Disney or your travel agent and the discount can be applied, which means the price of your trip will go down! Awesome! Now, once you have the initial reservation made here are a few important dates you need to be aware of moving forward.

  • 180 Days in Advance – Dining reservations open 180 days prior to a certain date, and since the Dining plan came about many years ago it is important to make most of these reservations as many of them fill up and the times you want may not be available if you wait until later. Now, for the big perk of already having a reservation. You should have your reservation linked on your Disney account and when your 180 day mark comes about you should be able to book dining reservations not just for the first day of your trip, but for the next 10 days, so really you can book up to 190 days, which gives you a jump on when off-site guests can book. This can be a huge advantage, especially for those hard to get reservations like Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, or many of the character meals. Now, if you are staying off-site you will have to book your reservations for each day, 180 days in advance. So it does involve getting up early to get online or on the phone to make those reservations. This is a great reason to use a travel agent, because most Disney travel agents should help make dining reservations for you, at no cost, and you can keep sleeping. Of course our sponsor, Big Dreams Travel, is one of those agencies. Online dining reservations change to the next day at 6 AM EST, every morning, while the phone lines open at 7 AM EST (407-WDW-DINE). It is also important to note that many other things, such as the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and other services like that open at 180 days as well. You can also make recreation reservations 180 days in advance for things such as watercraft, evening fireworks cruises, fishing trips, or other things. Call 407-WDW-PLAY for recreation reservations.
  • 60 Days in Advance – If you are staying on-site the 60 day mark is important for two reasons. First, you need to be prepared by this day to make your FP+ reservations. Online FP+ reservations open at midnight EST 60 days in advance of your trip. Again, most Disney travel agents will help you make these plans and reservations. You should also have a rough set of touring plans ready to go for each day and have ideal FP+ times ready to book. Keep in mind you must have park tickets and a valid resort reservation linked to your Disney account to make these reservations at the 60 day mark. The second thing you can do on this day if you are a resort guest is check in online for your resort. You can view our post on 5 Things to Know About Checking In and Out to get more information on this process.
  • 30 Days in Advance – There are two important things happening at this stage of trip planning. First, if you are staying on side and have a vacation package reservation (hotel and park tickets) your final payment will be due at this time. So make sure you get this paid or have made arrangements with your travel agent. The other main thing to do on this date is if you are staying off-site this is your FP+ reservation date. Remember, you must have park tickets linked to your Disney account. Online FP+ reservations open at midnight EST 30 days in advance of your trip.
  • 90 Days in Advance – Disney golf courses open their reservations for tee times 90 days in advance. Call 407-WDW-PLAY for reservations. You can also visit the website at www.golfwdw.com.
  • 365 Days in Advance – We did want to mention one thing that opens to book one year in advance and that is golf cart rentals if you are staying at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. Call the bike barn at 407-824-2742 for reservations.

Let us know if you have any question in the comments section below.

3 Principles of Disney World Itinerary Planning

Trip Planning Tuesday CastleFor today’s Trip Planning Tuesday article we wanted to get a little more specific on planning a Disney World Itinerary. We think there are three major principles that should be followed when it comes to planning a Disney World Itinerary that is going to be perfect for your family. These are in no particular order of importance and the different principles should support each other as an itinerary is laid out.

1. Rope Drop is Sacred – As we mentioned in our post on the Nuts and Bolts of an Itinerary, one of the most important things you can do is use the first two hours the parks are open as lines will be much shorter than the rest of the day. Rope drop, a fancy term for park opening, is a huge part of this and arriving at rope drop is a principle that should not be taken lightly. You need to be at the park in most cases 30-45 minutes before rope drop so you are in a good position to start your day. Even being just 10 minutes late to rope drop can have a domino effect on the rest of your morning, so arriving in advance is extremely important to getting your day off to the right start. Let me present you with a scenario to illustrate this:

If you are ready for a Magic Kingdom rope drop, the park usually opens about 15 minutes early, so you will be let in around 8:45. You arrive at your first step in the plan, Peter Pan’s Flight, at around 8:50 and walk on the ride. You are done with your ride by 9:00 and headed to your next attraction, Winnie the Pooh. You arrive at Pooh at 9:00 and wait about 5 minutes to ride. By 9:10 you are headed to your next attraction, Under the Sea. You arrive there by 9:20 and ride with a 5 minute wait. So by 9:30 you have done 3 attractions and can continue with your day.


Let’s say you arrive at 8:55 with the park already open, just 10 minutes late. The crowds to get through the turnstiles will now be larger, so it will be 9:10 before you arrive at Peter Pan. The line at Peter Pan is now 10-15 minutes, so you are not done until around 9:30. You will not arrive at Winnie the Pooh until 9:35, which also now has at least a 10 minute wait, which means you will arrive at Under the Sea around 9:50 at the earliest. It will have at least a 10 minute wait, meaning you won’t get off the ride until around 10:10.

So you see, arriving just 10 minutes late means just three rides into your day you are going to be 40 minutes behind where you would have been if you could have entered the park on time. This is not only affecting the next ride, but lines are going to be longer at every other ride you want to visit that day. So, be aware of the domino effect that will happen if rope drop is missed.

2. Don’t Follow a Late Night with an Early Morning – Now, all of the talk so far has been about rope drop and getting up early. We are certainly not expecting you to do that every day of your vacation, just on select ones when you want to hit headliner attractions. For every 2 rope drop days you plan we suggest 1 sleep in/restful mornings. The key to this is if you have had a late night for something such as Wishes or Fantasmic! we suggest making the next morning a sleep in day. It can be extra stressful trying to rally the troops to get to rope drop if you didn’t get in bed until midnight the day before. Just avoid that and schedule your sleep in/rest days the mornings after your late nights.

3. Plan Your Rest – One thing you must do is make sure you have planned rest time during your trip. This can be in the form of sleep in/rest mornings or in the form of the TBE touring method. Whatever type of day you are scheduling make sure it has some form of rest scheduled. Getting some rest during your vacation is, in our opinion, the best way to keep people from getting cranky and having meltdowns. You know the meltdowns we speak of! You have been in the parks and seen adults and parents alike have meltdowns, and most likely they are because they have been in the parks for 14 hours a day for the past three days and they just need some rest. So, plan your rest, and you won’t regret it.

If you have any questions on any of these topics please don’t hesitate to let us know and we’d love to help you answer them.

The Nuts & Bolts of a Great Disney World Itinerary

Cinderella CastlePlanning your itinerary is something that can be quite time consuming, but it is something that also helps people get excited about their upcoming vacation. Below we are going to cover some of what we like to call “The Nuts & Bolts” of a good Disney World itinerary. These principles will filter down into almost all of the advice we give in all parts of the planning process. These are not necessarily steps in making your itinerary, those will come in following posts, but these are simply the big ideas that should be the goal of any good itinerary.

  1. Standing in Line is No Fun – This is the first principle that we like to base everything off of when it comes to planning park time. The simple fact is that not one person who goes to Disney World enjoys standing in line for more than 15 minutes or so. The steps taken in planning an itinerary should reflect this. You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a vacation only to spend a majority of your time standing in line. By using the tips we are going to give you it is possible to go on a trip where the longest lines you have to stand in are around 20 minutes.
  2. The First Two Hours are Golden! – The next main principle we advise is that the first two hours that theme parks are open in the mornings are going to be by far the best time of the day to tour. We have tested this numerous times and you will be able to get more done in the first two hours of the park being open than you can the rest of the day combined due to shorter lines during that time. We will get more into this principle as we go, but just keep in mind to avoid lines you must use the first two hours after park opening.
  3. The Hourglass Principle – This refers back to #2 above but it is an important principle for you to understand. The crowds in theme parks are just like an hourglass. As time goes on the pile of sand at the bottom grows and grows without there being a way for any of the sand to get out. People are going to pour into the theme parks after park opening and no one will be leaving until the afternoon causing ride wait times to just climb and climb the longer the park is open. When you get to the parks and understand this principle you will see that you have over half of the park done by lunch time and other people will still be pouring into the park to start their day. The bottom line is you MUST be ahead of “THEM”.
  4. The TRE Method – The TRE method is something we will refer to throughout many of these articles. This refers to our suggested daily structure of Tour a park in the morning, Rest & Relax in the afternoon, and Enjoy the evening as a family. This is not the structure we would use every day as we definitely recommend having some mornings to sleep in and enjoy your resort, but for most days we think the TRE method is the best way to tour the parks effectively and keep everyone happy, well rested, and having a great time. We suggest your tour the parks from rope drop to around noon or 1 PM before returning to your resort for a break. Here you can take naps, swim in the pool, get out of the heat in the summer months, and enjoy that resort you paid so much for. Then you can enjoy your evening as a family. This may mean taking in a parade or fireworks or having a nice meal. We can speak from experience that these afternoon breaks will be the best thing you can do on your vacation, especially if you have younger children with you.
  5. Cranky People Don’t Have Great Vacations – Think about it. When do you have the best moments on family vacations. I’ll bet it is not when family members are cranky and tired. Our entire planning process is built around getting you into the parks at the best times of day so that you don’t stand in line, because standing in line breeds tiredness and crankiness. So yes, we are going to recommend you get out of bed and get to the parks early, but we are also going to give you some built in rest time in the afternoons as you get to head back to your resort, take a nap, swim at the pool, while “THEY” are still standing in 60 minute lines inside the theme parks, getting cranky.
  6. Enjoy Your Evenings – The evenings are some of our favorite times at Walt Disney World, not because we are riding attraction after attraction, but because we are making great memories with the ones we love. There is a lot to be said about a nice meal with your family or spending time watching Wishes at the Magic Kingdom. You will definitely be able to fit in a few attractions, especially with the FP+ system, but the focus of your evenings is not completely on riding rides. It is on making magic for your family.

We hope you are seeing the big picture for planning a Disney World vacation. Please let us know if you have any questions below and a “MouseDreamer” will stop by to help you out.