Part I:Tick-Tock for Time

I guess one of the most important details for our Disney Trip was planning our time.  There is soooo much to see and do that you are somewhat dazed.  And flying through Disney World at break-neck speed just doesn’t sound right.

Here are a few things that we learned that helped maximize our minutes and allowed it to be a truly wonderful week.

Time of year

You go when you can -obviously (and when you can afford it).  However, if possible, it is best to avoid the heat of summer (ask me how I know-even nearly 25 years later I can still feel the burn).  Remember we are talking about Florida here.

They also recommend not going during spring break.  (uh-oh.  remember rule #1-you go when you can.)  For us, well, spring break was the best time.  Knowing that it would be crowded meant we just had to manage our time even better.

Picking the Right Day

We found a site called TouringPlans.com which was helpful in steering our planning for Disney.  It was not free, but it helped us to know which park was busiest, what attractions were closed, how many minutes wait for rides, etc.

Touring Plans helped us map out a plan for each day.  We chose DW touring plans for parents with small children and then tweaked it specifically for our family.  By the end of the week, we were not sticking to our original plans via our Androids like we thought we would.  The site does not take into consideration the use of rider swaps.

Would we purchase the membership again?  Probably not.  It helped us in our pre-plans, but then most of those plans got screwed with longer waits, rider swaps, etc.  I wouldn’t consider it money wasted, because it gave us a game plan for each day.  It was helpful for newbies like us.  We just wouldn’t need to purchase it again.  Just my two cents.  However it may be just what your family needs, so check it out.

Rider Swap

Speaking of rider swaps earlier, this is an excellent feature.  It allowed Hubs and I to enjoy going on rides with our children.  Due to our wee ones, we were never able to ride attractions as a couple which would have been fun.

Oh, well.  Watching the thrill on our girls’ faces was just as special.

We had to approach the attractions as a family- so the Disney workers could see the other spouse and the “need” {read: many kiddos} for the rider swap.  Then one of us would take Bunny or Fuzz and get in line for the attraction.

The spouse left with the babies and the other big girl would go sit and enjoy the gorgeous Florida weather.  It was a time for snacks, diapers, drinks, etc.  Bird watching quickly became a favorite pass time for Zip and Pop.  Or should I say bird chasing?!

Then when… say, Hubs got back with Bunny (who’d be all smiles), I would go to the fast pass lane with Fuzz (or Bunny would ride again if Fuzz was too short or scared).  The rider swap would be handed over, gaining us immediate access to the front of the line. Rider swaps saved our family from having to wait in the line twice.

**You could even save the rider swap for later that day if you prefer.  Unlike the fast passes, the rider swaps are good for any time on that given day.

Fast Pass

I cannot say how much I loved this feature.  As soon as we arrived at a park, we would try to have in mind which fast pass we wanted to get first.  Then we would come back at our cards’ allotted time and give them to an attendant who would then direct us to a separate line.  It was such a relief to by-pass the multitudes of people waiting for Space Mountain (for 90+ minutes) and be in/out in 10-15 minutes tops.  As soon as we made use of our fast passes, we were eligible to get some more for another {busy} attraction.

Sometimes you may be given “surprise” fast passes at the ticket gate or at the machines (like above).  We actually didn’t use the fast pass for the Carousel of Progress.  It was an older attraction that moves people through fairly quickly. (Btw, it was a really cute ride- times really have changed over the past century.)

We also did not use the above Meet Mickey passes since we had already met him and his friends at Camp Micky-Minnie (in Animal Kingdom).  Not to mention that the Mickey attendant told us that we could not use the passes since we were three hours late.  We had assumed that the Disney princesses AND the Mickey passes were for the same time…10-11pm.  We’d received them at the same time.

However the attendant for the Princesses told us that she would slip us in to see Mickey after we were done with the others- if we wanted.

We went straight to the head of the line to see Cinderella and Co.  The line to see them was HUGE considering the hour (after 11pm).  Once we were done, forget about seeing Mickey again- we got on the ferry to start the trek home from Magic Kingdom.

So, yeah, sometimes you don’t use them, but they certainly do come in handy when the day is hot and the line is long.

(By the way, my girls are like any other little girl.  Mesmerized by princesses.  It was too sweet.  They were just full of questions…are there really princesses out there somewhere? ….where do they live?…are there really princes?…what about their castles?  Of course, it was an excellent opportunity to remind them that through their faith in God, they, too, are little princesses.)

Make Your Minutes Count

If you are waiting in line for an attraction, then your spouse or someone else can run and grab a fast pass at the same time. Or take the kids to the bathroom.  Or change a dirty diaper.  Or buy a funnel cake for their sweetie.  Ahem.  Whoever that might be.

Every Wink is Important

To maximize our sleep at night, we would bath the kids the night before.  Four very sweaty, dirty, sticky-with-sunscreen kiddos would go flying through the tub every evening from anywhere between 10pm-12am.  (Thankfully we only had one late nighter at MK due to the fireworks, princess meetings, and the necessary ferry/tram ride just to get to our van.)

I would do this to Bunny with her damp hair at night.  This made hair styling a breeze  and helped avoid some serious bed-hair in the morning:

**Hats can also hide messy hair and protect from the sun.  A win-win.  =)

I also had packed the kids outfits in labeled ziploc baggies with socks, undies- everything needed.  This was a tremendous help.  Let me say that again.  This was a tre-men-dous help.  It made the mornings so much smoother.

I also took my showers the night before.  I tried out Laine’s No Heat Headband Curls.  Loved it.  I felt so fancy and put together in spite of the late nights and early mornings.

I laid out our clothing the night before too.  (and no, there were no ziploc bags for us.  Not a bad idea though- I just didn’t have any big enough to not wrinkle our clothes.)

Pack the diaper bag.  Charge your phones, cameras and computers.  Pack the snack bags- as much as possible.

Seriously.  Do these things.  You will thank yourself in the morning.  And your Hubs will thank you for it.  And your kids will thank you- for us, it meant getting to the park on time.

Save Your Legs and Arms

Ride the tram.  As much as of hassle that they were, the trams made toting four weary children and food/diaper bags much easier. 

Strollers have to be collapsed to ride the trams- which was/is a royal pain.  We quickly learned that carrying the babies and having the big kids help with all the bags the short distance to the tram pick-up was way, way easier than loading and reloading everything in the stroller.

Another tip would be specifically for entering the Magic Kingdom.  Drive to Epcot and park.  It will not be crowded due to opening an hour later than MK.  Then simply load the stroller down with babies and bags, grab the hands of older kiddos and walk to the monorail station (remember you arrived early and found good parking).  Roll the stroller and kids right on and ride to MK.  Then tranfer to the MK monorail and sail smoothly into the MK gate entrance- with NO juggling of children or loot. 

Or if you’d prefer, you could roll right onto the ferry for a boat ride instead of the second monorail to the MK entrance.Little things like this {that are hassle free} make a HUGE difference when daddy and mommy are tired. =)

Make every minute count.  Children grow up way too fast.

Also in this Disney on a Dime series:

We’re All Ears (Intro)

A Mouse Celebration (Telling the Kids)

Happy planning.

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