(Lincroft, New Jersey)
Hi, First off, your website is an amazing resource so thank you! It has been invaluable in planning our upcoming trip. We (husband, 6 year old son and me) will be taking our son’s first trip to Disney from January 9-16th. We plan to be in the Magic Kingdom on the 10th and 15th. I am interested in seeing as much as possible, but also enjoying ourselves, which means we will need to take a midafternoon break back at our hotel (Art of Animation). I have 2 questions – first do you think we will waste a lot of time trying to leave the park, get back to the hotel and back to the park again? I think we need the rest to make it to the parade and fireworks even though they are earlier, but are we crazy to do that? Second, we will definitely be there when it opens (we are early birds) so how would you approach the park (Fantasyland first, save fast passes for afternoon when we come back, etc? Any insight on a plan of attack for that day would be awesome!!!!
Dad’s Naptime Answer
Tracey, thank you for your kind words – I’m just pleased as punch I could be of help to you and your family. You have a bunch of great questions, so let’s look at them one at a time!
You’re going in January, which is an excellent time to visit from a crowd and heat perspective – these are the two things that make a day at WDW downright exhausting when the levels are high. That will give you a bit more “juice” to enjoy the parks for longer, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a break mid-day. Mid-afternoon is the busiest time of day so recharging with a nap or swim can really help you enjoy WDW after dark.
Nothing at WDW is a waste of time (other than standing in long lines when you could have avoided them by having a great PLAN!). It’s YOUR Perfect Vacation, so if naptime works for you, go for it!
Getting to and from the Art of Animation will take you about 30-45 minutes from room to gate. It depends how long you wait for the bus – transit time is around 20 minutes depending on traffic. There is a bit of walking to do from the bus to your room and from the bus to the park entrance but nothing extreme! If you plan 3-4 hours in the middle of the day (say, 1pm-4:30pm), that’ll give you plenty of time to go back, have a rest, and gear up for the evening. If you plan to eat lunch or dinner at the resort, roll this into your naptime window.
Since you’re planning to be there early each day (Dad’s favorite tip) make sure you get there before the park opens so you can get in the gates, get your sunscreen on, rent a stroller or locker, or take care of any other “business.”
Make your FastPass+ reservations for noon or later (you can certainly split them between early afternoon and the evening) since the first 3 hours of the day you’ll get a LOT done, even without FastPasses. If you’re planning to ride Splash Mountian, make a FastPass+ reservation for immediately before your afternoon break so you’re not sitting around in wet clothes in the chilly Florida winter.
Take an afternoon nap if it means you’ll get to see Wishes! – Photo by Judd Helms
On one day, head straight to Fantasyland, and ride everything there you can (If you have a FastPass+ for Peter Pan or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train later on, skip them now unless there is a very short wait). Then proceed to the Liberty Square/Frontierland/Adventureland side of the park to ride things like Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Magic Carpets of Aladdin, and Jungle Cruise – anything your little guy is brave enough to ride.
On the second day you can do the same thing and then head to Tomorrowland after Fantasyland for the Tomorrowland Speedway Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, and Astro Orbiter. Once your arrival plan is complete – head back to the hotel for your nap, have lunch, or repeat some favorite rides if it’s still early. When you return in the evenings, use your FastPass+, ride anything with a short wait or that you’d love to ride again.
In your case, reserving a FastPass+ for the Main Street Electrical parade may make sense – you’ll get a great view but you won’t have to waste time waiting for an hour before the parade begins. Or try watching it in Frontierland where there are lower crowds. Wishes can be seen throughout the park so don’t bother reserving a space for that.
How to attack the parks – get there before opening, make fp for 12 or later, plus later at night maybe even parade
Dad’s Bottom Line
Tracey, you’re going to have an amazing time with your family. Naps are a great way to extend your hours in the park and make sure no one gets cranky! Have fun!