Walt Disney World, Orlando
Disney’s FASTPASS System is a revolutionary guest enhancement at Walt Disney World Resort enabling guests to have an alternative to waiting in lines for many of the most popular attractions. There is no additional charge to use Disney’s FASTPASS service. Here is how it works:
1) Ticketed guest or annual pass holder enters the park main entrance gate.
2) Guest visits any attraction offering Disney’s FASTPASS Service. Here, guest has the option of waiting in the regular standby line or choosing Disney’s FASTPASS Service. To assist there is a digital clock denoting regular wait time and the return time for Disney’s FASTPASS service.
3) If Disney’s FASTPASS option is a choice, a guest inserts his or her theme park ticket into the FASTPASS machine. Out comes the FASTPASS ticket denoting when to return to the attraction. Holders of a Disney’s FASTPASS ticket are given a hone-hour window for their return. For Example, 10:05-11:05am. That means the guest cannot enter the attractions using FASTPASS service before 10:05, but it is free to return at any time during that one-hour window.
4) Upon returning at the designated time, the guest heads straight for the Disney’s FASTPASS entrance and proceeds to directly to the attraction pre-show or boarding area with little or no wait.
Fondest memory: Currently, Disney's FASTPASS service is offered on the following attractions:
Magic Kingdom Park :
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - Frontierland
Buzz Lightyear - Tomorrowland
Haunted Mansion - Liberty Square
Jungle Cruise - Adventureland
Peter Pan's Magic Flight - Fantasyland
Space Mountain - Tomorrowland
Splash Mountain - Frontierland
Winnie the Pooh - Fantasyland
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience!
Living With the Land
Indiana JonesTM Epic Stunt Spectacular!
Jim Henson's Muppet Vision 3-D
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Voyage of The Little Mermaid
Who Wants To Be a Millionaire - Play It!
Animal Kingdom Theme Park :
It's Tough To Be a Bug!
Kali River Rapids
I can't think of one thing--only many things to do here and I wrote a few down:
Go to the Contemporary Resort and to the California Grill on the 14th floor about a half hour before the fireworks start at Magic Kingdom. You have to go to either the 2nd or the 4th floor to catch an express elevator to the restaurant. Tell the check-in desk that you don’t have reservations but are going to the California Grill for drinks (you really don’t have to buy any) and to watch the fireworks. This is the tallest building in Disney and they have large windows and also two outdoor viewing walkways --- one on each side of the restaurant) that overlook a vast area. You can view the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom – for free-- and actually have a more unique view than many of the people inside the park! You don’t even have to buy anything at the California Grill although their martinis are quite nice.
Go to the Wilderness Lodge – check out the lobby – they usually have a wonderful gingerbread house collection during the holidays. Then go outside – to the pool area, and follow the sidewalk down to the geyser area
Downtown Disney is free as well as Pleasure Island now. Park at one end of the parking lot) and walk all of the shops. There is a Lego store that has an outside play area with tables & chairs and all sorts of legos that the children can just play with as long as they want. The stores are awesome – all child friendly – toys, candy and clothes.
All of Disney’s Resorts will be decorated for the seasonal Christmas-time holidays, so resort-hop just to look at the beautiful special themed decorations. Just visiting the grand lobbies and their gift shops can be sensory overload for the children.
Just about anyplace near a theme park or Downtown Disney will provide nice viewing of fireworks displays at night.
If you are at WDW during January, you can watch the annual Disney marathon like I did this year for friends from England who asked that I take a “Flat Stanley” with me.
Fondest memory: Going to WDW takes you away from the "real" world--even if it is for a short time and it takes you into a world of wonder, a world of fun, and a world of imagination & dreams. One thing I do enjoy is the monorail for a great overview of part of WDW.
You don’t have to stay on property to be able to take the Disney transportation system (most people don’t know this). You can ride the boats, monorail, buses etc. but have to access this free transportation from a Disney resort. Every Disney resort has a gatehouse with security as a security precaution. Just tell the guard that you are “meeting friends” inside, checking out the resort for future stays or are going to eat at one of the resort restaurants. They will jask for picture ID (driver’s license) – just show it --and then drive inside to the self-parking area.
The monorail also goes right thru the lobby (on the 4th floor) of the Contemporary Resort. Stand in line, then get on the monorail and ride it around to two other resorts – The Grand Floridian and Polynesian Village - getting on & off – to go inside each of those resorts to see their Christmas decorations during the holidays. Kids will think it’s an “adventure” just to take the monorail ride & it’s free!
Also, you can ride the monorail to the stop at Epcot Center. It runs above parts of Epcot so you can see how large Epcot & the World Showcase really are. To get to Epcot from the Contemporary resort monorail station you need to ride the monorail to the monorail transportation center (on the way to Polynesian and Grand Floridian resorts). You will need to disembark and then board the monorail that only goes to Epcot
I'm not sure if we would have found this without our excellent EPCOT guide Patty (hexepatty) but if you go to the Club Cool at EPCOT near Innoventions West, there are free samples of different Coca Cola products from Mozambique, Costa Rica, Italy, Germany, Japan, Israel, Mexico and China, you can try as many as you like. I think I tried all but the Japanese Vegitabeta which sounded dreadful and Mexico which was out of order.
Club Cool isn't even listed in the EPCOT brochure, is this supposed to be a secret?
Favorite thing: You are not alowed to bring beverages into the Theme Parks. Beverages can add up during a hot summer day. A large Bottled water is $2. We like to bring an empty water bottle and fill it up at various water fountains throughout the day. It's easier than waiting in line and saves money.
while evry one has there own way to see the parks, we found that following a few guide lines helps out...
First we found that once you get into the park it was better to go left than right, only because most people go right, Has anyone found it to be different? let me no...
Also going to the less popular rides first gets you on them and also keeps you from waiting in long lines...
Like in Universal studios Terminator 3-d, since it is to the right and one of the first attractions the wait was 1hour 45 minutes when we were there, if we had followed the ride guide and hit that ride at around 4-5pm there was hardley anyone in line.....
Just food for thought......
Fondest memory: Losing my hat at the start of the Rocking Roller Coaster / aerosmith ride...
Go on it and you'll see....
One of the best thing Disney has developed is the Fast Pass. What it is, is a way of getting on a ride without having to wait for a tremendous amount of time. What you do is take your ticket card and insert it into the fast pass machine of the ride you want to go on. Then it gives you a ticket with a time frame for you to return to get on the ride. It's usually a one hour window like 12-1. When you return you go in through the Fast Pass entrance and skip the long line to the side of you. You usually end up waiting about 10 minutes to get on the ride instead of half an hour or more. Once you get your Fast Pass you can't get another fast pass until the earliest time on your first Fast Pass ticket, so you can't go from ride to ride and get fast passes for them all. The one change I think would be nice would be for Disney to reserve the Fast Pass option for those visitors who are staying at Disney resorts and hotels.
Fondest memory: Using my Fast Pass to ride Test Track and only having to wait 20 minutes when the stand by line was over 2 hours.
We called Disney ahead of time and did character dining. If you wait you will not get the character dining you want especially busy time of year. SO CALL BEFORE you leave, as soon as you know you are going!
The hardest one to get is in Magic Kingdom called Cinderella's Castle.You have to call exactly day they take new reservations(month earlier than day want).
But we did do 2 character breakfast and we had fun. Biggest tip: Bring camera and each kid own notebook and each own pen for autographs.EVERY kid has own pen and notebook to get characters autographs.Plus it slows down the characters to get a picture with kids and more time with them.They only stop at each table short time.
There are many character breakfast you can call and reserve way in advance. Some at parks and some at the deluxe hotels. You do not have to be staying at the deluxe hotel to go to this one. We did the ones at the theme parks we were planning on going to and worked out better.
We did a Princess Breakfast, obviously my 6 year old girl loved. This is at Epcot, in Norway by the viking ship. Do the first seating if possible. Food ok. We saw Princess Ariel, Mulan, Snow White, and Jasmine.(they report characters may change).If you do this one, just remember takes at least another 30 minutes to get to where restaurant is in Norway from gates and can not be late. They repeat whole breakfast for another crowd in short time.
So leave EARLY so on time.
We also a character breakfast at Animal Kingdom in Dino Land part. Had a great breakfast buffet and we were not rushed. YUMMY food here! This was great. We saw Micky, Donald Duck, Pluto, and Goofy. Again, bring pens and notebooks for each kid and camera.
There were many more. This were two we did.
This is easy way to see characters and not have to stand in line for their autographs. They do not sit down and eat with you. Each character comes one at time to your table for a minute or two and then goes to next table.Yet, my kids thought it was great!
Fondest memory: My 6 year old daughter beaming ear to ear at Princess Breakfast.
Phone numbers for Disney character and all dining reservations are:
For other Disney general questions,hotel reservations,or other Disney information we used this number:
Remember to try to call non-peak hours in week. You still may be on hold for long time, but is worth it later.
Free things @ Disney World during Thanksgiving & New Years:
At the Contemporary Resort & its 14th floor California Grill about 1/2 hour before the Magic Kingdom fireworks start. You have to go to either the 2nd or 4th floor to catch an express elevator to the restaurant. Tell the check-in desk that you don’t have reservations but are going to the California Grill for drinks (you really don’t have to buy anything) & to watch the fireworks. It is Disney's tallest building with large windows & 2 outdoor view walkways - 1 on each side for a unique view! Bonus: the martinis are quite nice but pricey.
After fireworks, take the lobby's monorail on the 4th floor & ride it around to The Grand Floridian & Polynesian Village resorts. You can go inside each resort to see their Christmas decorations. Kids will think the monorail is an “adventure” & it’s free!
The monorail also goes to Epcot & it runs above parts of Epcot so you can see how large Epcot & World Showcase are. To get there from the Contemporary resort monorail station, ride to the transportation center, disembark & board the Epcot monorail.
Check the Wilderness Lodge lobby. They usually have a great gingerbread house collection & outside @ the pool area, follow the sidewalk down to the geyser area also to a boat dock. Take a Disney boat to another resort or just stay on the boat for a roundtrip. It’s free.
During the day, go to Animal Kingdom Lodge resort & after you check the pool & lobby, go out back thru the lobby & view live animals roaming the area (free) from 3 viewing areas on both sides of the lobby and 1 around the pool. At night there's an African-born guide with night-vision binoculars so you can view animals roaming the grounds. The guides are extremely helpful & friendly as are all Disney employees (they are called cast members).
Fondest memory: Some WDW observations & experiences:
WDW, in the midst of summer, can be difficult at best due to the heat & humidity if you are not used to it. My favorite time to visit is between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
One advantage about staying at a Disney “Value Priced” property is that they have value-priced food courts with cafeteria-style café & deli-priced food for the whole family on-site. They also have children’s play areas and themed swimming pools.
Suggestion: buy a foam cooler ($5.00) & milk, juice, cereal, finger foods at a local grocery store & fill the chest with ice (free) if your room does not have a refrigerator.
You don’t have to stay on property to be able to take the Disney transportation system of boats, monorail, buses, etc. free-but they always have the right to ask for Disney guest ID.
Every Disney resort has a gatehouse with security & they will ask for your photo ID unless you have a Disney car pass on your dashboard. Tell the guard you're checking the resort or going to dine. Show ID & drive to a self-parking area.
All Disney’s Resorts are decorated for Christmas-time holidays, so resort-hop just to look at the beautiful special themed decorations in the grand lobbies. Their gift shops can be sensory overload for the kids.
Downtown Disney & Pleasure Island are free now. Park at one end of the parking lot & walk all of the shops- a Lego store with an outside play area, & all sorts of Legos that children can just play with as long as they want. The stores are all child friendly & have toys, candy & clothes. Boats the Rainforest Café station go from Downtown Disney to other resorts.
Anyplace near a theme park or Downtown Disney provides a nice viewing of fireworks displays.
If you are at WDW during January, you can watch the annual Disney marathon like I did this year. Events occur year-round and checking the Disney websites for special events at a time you are considering is advisable.
Favorite thing: This may sound silly, but if you plan on visiting Disney, I strongly suggest that you bring your own bottle of water. The best thing to do is to bring a frozen bottle of water and drink it as it melts. When you run out, simply refill your water bottle at one of the many drinking fountains located throughout the park. Otherwise you'll get stuck paying for bottled water and at $2.50 a pop, that can add up really, really fast.
You never no when you might see your favorite charecter, so keep your camera ready and have plenty of film/disk space..
The kids really get into having their pictues taken, even my wife, as Donald is her favorite..
Fondest memory: Just having fun and feeling 13 again..
GO have fun be a kid all over..
No one in disney will mind, trust me...
One of the things I like best about DisneyWorld is the introduction of FastPass which saves an incredible amount of time that you would have spent standing in line doing something else. Only the popular rides with the longest lines utilize FastPass, they are marked in the Park map, you get the FastPass by inserting your admission ticket into the FastPass machine in front of the attraction. The return time window is marked at the entrance to the ride and on the FastPass ticket.
We got a FastPass for Stitch's Great Escape (waste of time) first, our return window was about an hour later so we went off to go on something else while we were waiting for our slot. The FastPass line usually goes pretty quickly, certainly much quicker than standing in the general line.
Fast Pass was even more valuable at EPCOT where there are fewer attractions and longer standby wait times. Get your FastPass for Soarin' or Test Track as soon as you get to the Park, Soarin' actually ran out of FastPass slots by midafternoon. And check the FastPass to see when you can get the next one, sometimes it is before your current slot if the wait times are several hours.
Patrick, Gryphon, Thaddeus and Sebastian looked forward to their daily ice cream treat. All over the Disney parks you can find ice cream vendors selling all sorts of ice cream yummies from frozen fruit bars to bottles of soda pop. Patrick's favorite was the Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwich that was made with cookies and cream ice cream. My favorite was the frozen strawberry bar. The other boys enjoyed the frozen orange juice bar and some treat with a name I can't pronounce, it was basically a long skinny popsicle. These treats can run you anywhere from $2.50 to $4.00 though.
Fondest memory: Watching Patrick have his first bit of his Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwich.
In order to update information about the Disney Dining Plan since my last trip, I tried to research current costs and changes to the plan for 2009. I did locate some information about the plan on the Disney site, but searches for prices was virtually fruitless at this time.
Perhaps that is because for a limited time, Disney is offering to include the meal plan when you book a vacation package with them at one of the Disney resorts.
Generally, the plan has previously included one or two snacks, one quick service meal, and a seat-down dinner for each person, per night of stay. Several years ago, the plan also included appetizers and desserts + gratuity for sit-down meals. However, the plan has been significantly changed since 2006.
***Please check with Disney for a thorough explanation of the plan, what it covers, and when and where it can be used.***
The Disney Meal Plan used to be an extraordinary bargain at Disney World during a time (2006) when it was difficult to find bargains of any type in this fairytale land. It still may be advantageous to purchase a plan depending on the individual needs of yourself or your family, but be sure to obtain all details and understand the restrictions prior to arriving at your Disney Hotel.
If you're not so excited about watching the parades or fireworks, this is an optimal time to go on rides because so many of the visitors are lined up on Main Street, even staking out spots well in advance.
If you must eat at Disney, try going at slightly off times so you don't have to wait in too long of a line. We ate lunch around 3:00 and there was no wait at all.
There are several unofficial websites devoted strictly to Disney Parks with tips on how to save money, how to beat the crowds, what rides to go on, advice on hotels, really any advice you could think to ask you will probably find on these websites and discussion boards. Here are three that I've found helpful:
All Ears Net