Arrival time for staying offsite
"We will be visiting Disney next month party of 13 all first timers. We are staying off the property at a rental home. Our tickets are basic day park hopper tickets. We will be there only one day. Mainly want to spend most of our time at Hollywood Studios (Toy Story Land) and Magic Kingdom.
We want to see the fireworks at Magic Kingdom. Do you suggest we park and start off at Hollywood Studios? Is the preferred parking pass worth the extra amount from the regular parking pass? Do you suggest to attend a dessert party if so which one? Our rental is about 9 miles from Disney what time do you suggest we arrive to the parks? Thank you for your time!"
A Big Day
YOU'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!!!
And 13 of you making your first trip. That's amazing.
It sound like you are going to have one big day. Disney's Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom in a single day is a tall order. You won't see everything, but you'll have fun.
Where to Start
If you want to spend most of your day at Hollywood Studios, yes, you should go there first thing in the morning. I would arrive about 45 minutes prior to opening time. You might even get in to the park early.
Go Directly to Toy Story Land
The first thing you should do when you arrive and get in the park is to go directly to Toy Story Land and ride Slink Dog Dash, followed by Alien Swirling Saucers then Toy Story Mania.
After that you can just map out your day depending on your FastPasses.
If Star Wars:Galaxy's Edge is open and that is important to you, go there first.
If money is not an object, then pay for preferred parking. It's not that big of a deal. Usually early in the mornings parking is pretty close to the front and preferred parking doesn't add much.
One caveat to that. The parking at Hollywood Studios has been under construction for about a year and we don't know exactly how the new parking lot is going to be set up.
Yes, preferred parking will save you some steps, or a few minutes on a tram, but is it worth an extra $20? Maybe...
While I think the dessert parties are cool, I do NOT recommend them for first timers and especially in your case. A dessert party takes time and it's time you could be using to get a last minute ride or two in.
With only one day, you are going to want as much time as possible. Also with a party of 13, you might have trouble reserving a dessert party. They fill up really quickly.
So, no. I wouldn't recommend a dessert party for your group.
I think you'll find you are planning a really big day. Depending on the crowds, you might be spending a lot of time standing in line. I have some rules to help deal with crowds and I think you should highly consider them as you plan your day.
#1 - Get to the parks early - we've already talked about this but it's essential. Be there before the park opens.
#1a - Have a plan - another essential element. You don't want to be standing around all day, arguing over what you are going to do next. Get your group together long before you leave and map out a plan for what you want to see. WRITE IT DOWN!
#2 - Ride the busy rides first - early mornings the lines are the shortest of the day. Ride the busy rides as early as possible then move on to the shows and less busy rides. You won't stand in line as much if you do it that way. (List of the busy rides
#3 - Figure out how to master FastPass+ - FastPass+ is the biggest and best way to avoid crowds. Since you are staying offsite, you are at a big disadvantage. Disney hotel guests get to start booking FastPass reservations at 60 days. You have to wait until 30 days.
Figure out what you can and want to FastPass.
Dad's Bottom Line
Michelle, I could write a whole book full of stuff you need to know. Oh, yeah. I did. (Get Dad's Simple Fun Magic Guide to Walt Disney World Planning
) You might check it out. It's a good book.
I highly recommend you spend a lot of time planning out your day. Get everyone involved in the planning. Yes, it will be chaos, but better to have some planning chaos before you go than total chaos when you arrive.
Make a PLAN. Get to the park early. Enjoy.