Thursday, April 20, 2023

Favorite Quick Serve Restaurants in Disney World

 


As I've said before, food is a major part of your Walt Disney World vacation.  Food tastes run the gamut, and Disney has something for everyone.  We spend a lot of time thinking about the table service restaurants on our trip - in general, we do one table service and one quick service meal a day (the third meal usually being something from the groceries we order into our resort or something quick and easy to eat on the go for breakfast - gotta hit the parks early!)



The quick service restaurants on property aren't as interesting thematically or often as adventurous as the table service ones.  But there are more of them, and they serve an important function - getting some food into you before you continue your tiring day of walking and riding attractions.  So I thought I'd show some love today to five of my favorite quick serve restaurants on property.  I can't say these are the "best", as I haven't dined everywhere.  But in my opinion, there's something about each of these that's worthwhile.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Park Strategy

 

 


 

We’re going to be looking at park strategies for all four of the parks at Walt Disney World.  My previous strategy guides assumed that you wouldn't be staying on property or purchasing Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes (ILL).  But so much of the best strategies involve these options, so instead I'm going to talk about what the best option is for each particular park.  Since Early Entry is available to all on property guests, this also changes traditional rope drop strategy. We'll also talk about what you can do if these options aren't available to you.  Today we’ll be discussing Hollywood Studios. (Updated April 19, 2023).

 

Hollywood Studios attractions:

Highest wait times - Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Slinky Dog Dash, Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

Moderate wait times – Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock N Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, Toy Story Mania, Alien Swirling Saucers, Meet Disney Stars at Red Carpet Dreams, Meet Sully at Walt Disney Presents

Lowest wait times – Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, Muppet*Vision 3D, Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy, Meet Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight


Best Strategy: Genie+, combined with Early Entry

Alternate Strategy - Genie+ only, stacking rides in the late afternoon and arriving later/park hopping


A quick note on the above - even moderate wait times at this park can be a burden.  For April 2023, the top SIX rides here all averaged over an hour during the day.  That's a lot to work around.  Tower of Terror recently underwent a refurbishment that closed one side of the ride, effectively doubling the wait time.  That appears to be back to normal now, dropping Tower of Terror into the "moderate" category.  On the other hand, Toy Story Mania and Runaway Railway have enjoyed a resurgence of sorts, putting them both in the upper-middle category.  The names may move around, but the result is the same - the top rides are a lot to deal with.


Hollywood Studios is one of the hardest parks to strategize for.  In large part, this is due to the attraction lineup being very top heavy.  There are a lot of newer and very in demand attractions at this park, and currently not a lot of crowd eater type shows and attractions to disperse everyone.  Thankfully, character meet and greets are back, as well as Beauty & The Best: Live On Stage, the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and For The First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-a-long. These things should at least help spread the crowds out so that they’re not waiting for one of the five or six big attractions at the park.

 

Magic Kingdom - Park Strategy


 

 

We’re going to be looking at park strategies for all four of the parks at Walt Disney World.  My previous strategy guides assumed that you wouldn't be staying on property or purchasing Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes (ILL).  But so much of the best strategies involve these options, so instead I'm going to talk about what the best option is for each particular park.  Since Early Entry is available to all on property guests, this also changes traditional rope drop strategy. We'll also talk about what you can do if these options aren't available to you.  Today we’ll be discussing Magic Kingdom. (Updated April 19, 2023).

 

Magic Kingdom attractions:

Highest wait times – Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, Jungle Cruise, Space Mountain, 

Moderate wait times – Pirates Of The Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion, it’s a small world, Astro Orbiter, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh, Tomorrowland Speedway, The Barnstormer,  Under The Sea: Journey Of The Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales With Belle, pretty much any meet and greet

Lowest wait times –  Mickey's Philharmagic, Dumbo The Flying Elephant, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, Swiss Family Treehouse, The Magic Carpets Of Aladdin, Tom Sawyer Island, Liberty Square Riverboat, Country Bear Jamboree, The Hall Of Presidents, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, Walt Disney’s Carousel Of Progress, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

N/A - Tron Lightcycle Run (more on this below)

Best Strategy - Genie+

Alternate Strategy - Extended Evening Hours

 

In some ways, Magic Kingdom is the easiest park to strategize around and in some ways it’s the hardest.  There are easily more attractions at this park then at any of the others, probably combined.  That leads to a more spread out crowd throughout the day, with more moderate wait times as opposed to some really busy attractions and some empty ones.  Our recommendation is to spend two days in Magic Kingdom.  If you choose not to (or are unable to do so for any reason), our STRONG recommendation is to purchase Genie+.  I would recommend it even over a two day visit, as it allows your trip to be much more relaxed.  More than any other park, the experience of being there is worth a great deal at the most visited theme park in the world.

 

Epcot - Park Strategy

 


 

 

We’re going to be looking at park strategies for all four of the parks at Walt Disney World.  My previous strategy guides assumed that you wouldn't be staying on property or purchasing Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes (ILL).  But so much of the best strategies involve these options, so instead I'm going to talk about what the best option is for each particular park.  Since Early Entry is available to all on property guests, this also changes traditional rope drop strategy. We'll also talk about what you can do if these options aren't available to you.  Today we’ll be discussing Epcot. (Updated April 19, 2023).

 

Epcot attractions:

Highest wait times – Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After, Test Track

Moderate wait times – Soarin' Around The World, Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, Meet Elsa and Anna at Royal Sommerhaus

Lowest wait times – Journey Into Imagination With Figment, Living With The Land, The Seas With Nemo and Friends, Turtle Talk With Crush, Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros

N/A - Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (see below for more on this one specifically)


Best Strategy: Early Entry with Extended Evening Hours if possible

Alternate Strategy: Genie+ (and Early Entry)

 

A couple of notes on the above – first, I’m not including any of the shows (The American Adventure, Awesome Planet, etc) as those generally have set schedules (which you can find at the park or on Disney’s official website) and mostly have little to no wait (essentially the amount of time that the show takes is how long you’ll wait if you just missed it).  Second, wait times are relative, not absolute. This means that the lowest wait times at the busiest time of year will probably still feel quite busy, while the highest wait times on the slowest day of the year won’t seem so bad. Context matters.  

 

Disney's Animal Kingdom - Park Strategy

 


 

 

We’re going to be looking at park strategies for all four of the parks at Walt Disney World.  My previous strategy guides assumed that you wouldn't be staying on property or purchasing Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes (ILL).  But so much of the best strategies involve these options, so instead I'm going to talk about what the best option is for each particular park.  Since Early Entry is available to all on property guests, this also changes traditional rope drop strategy. We'll also talk about what you can do if these options aren't available to you.  Today we’ll be discussing Disney’s Animal Kingdom (DAK). (Updated April 19, 2023)

 

Animal Kingdom attractions:

Highest wait times – Avatar Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey

Moderate wait times – Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost, DINOSAUR, Kali River Rapids

Lowest wait times – TriceraTop Spin, It’s Tough To Be A Bug


Best strategy: Early Entry

Alternate strategy: Arrive late afternoon (maybe park hopping)

 

I’m leaving out any of the animal trails around the park, which are self guided walks around certain areas.  Similarly, I’m also leaving out Rafiki’s Planet Watch, which is an “edutainment” section devoted to animal care and conservation.  Finally, I’m ignoring the shows that have performances at set times (Festival Of The Lion King, Feathered Friends In Flight and soon the returning Finding Nemo: The Big Blue and Beyond).  If you arrive a little before show time, you should have no issues getting in to see a particular performance.  It’s Tough To Be A Bug, while a show, is listed on the official and unofficial wait time apps and the performances run one after the other; that line can back up on busy days but is usually one of the lowest at the park. That will be included here.

 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Easter Week Crowds - the Worst of the Season?

 


We're back with another look at recent Easter week crowds at Disney World.  As promised last week, we said that once the data was in, we would take a look back at just how bad it was (or wasn't? Stay tuned).  We're going to see if this was truly the peak of Spring Break season, and compare that to how crowded the parks were for Easter week last year.  We'll also take a look at whether a certain recent trend continues in terms of crowd distribution for a given week.



If you were traveling to Disney World for Easter week, you probably knew what you were getting into, as this is a week that schools often have for vacation.  Interestingly, in recent years in New York (where I live), the school break has been the week AFTER Easter.  While still crowded, that week generally sees lower crowds across the board.  


Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Busiest Spring Break Week? Genie+ Sells Out, Tron Opens, Return of a Favorite


 

We recently wrote a report about the real start of Spring Break season at Disney World, typically one of the busiest stretches of the year.  The week in question in that report was expected to be the busiest of the season, with many colleges as well as local K-12 schools in Florida having that week off.  Based on early reports from this current week, however, we might have a new contender for busiest week yet.



The week leading up to Easter is always one of the busiest of the season, but doesn't always reach the heights of the local, earlier break.  It's too early to draw any conclusions in full yet, but I plan to circle back to this next week when all the data is available.  But a few things have happened recently that lead me to believe this is the peak of the peak season.  We'll discuss a few of these here.


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