Touring Plans, Disney World-MK 2day plan for junior pirates - thoughts?
May 22, 2014 10:13 AM   Subscribe

We are off to Disney World, Orlando in just a couple of weeks. We have a 3 day pass with the water park + more option. We are 2 adults, a 5.5 yr old who will hit the height threshold, and a 9.5 year. We haven’t travelled there before. We are planning on visiting MK for 2 days, and leaning towards the zoo for the 3rd day. We want to see both water parks and the arcade. We are planning on following Touring Plan’s Magic Kingdom Two-Day Touring Plan for Junior Pirates and Adventures Ages 4-8.

Have you experienced MK using this plan? How did you find it? Were the timelines given for FastPass accurate? Should we just say to heck with this plan and use the app to understand/avoid wait times for rides?

I am a little confused about booking the FastPass selections, and don’t want to screw it up. Any tips there would be helpful as well. There are a number of websites and boards where people discuss Disney but I’ve found the sheer volume of information and opinions out there to be overwhelming and geared towards experienced visitors, without touching on this particular Touring Plan.

We are staying offsite in a rented house, so parking is a factor.

Thanks in advance for the advice!
posted by walkinginsunshine to Travel & Transportation around Orlando, FL (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
We used touring plans, but put our own plan together based on the attractions that we wanted to see. It was remarkably accurate - we'd walk past a ride that we were slated to go to in an hour, look at the line, and think "there is no way they are right about that", but by the time we got there, the wait was exactly as they anticipated. All the timing was accurate, Fastpass and otherwise, for us.

Animal Kingdom is also really amazing - I didn't think it would be, but it was our favorite park.

Have fun! :)
posted by needlegrrl at 10:17 AM on May 22, 2014

I was just there in February, and we found the wait times using FastPass were consistently 5-10 minutes or less. Definitely worth it for rides like Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, basically any really popular ride that consistently has a 30+ minute wait time in the regular line. You can sign up for 3 FastPass rides per day, which you should definitely do as your first thing when you get inside the park. You can only do FastPasses within one park on any given day, which should work just fine with your plan to do two full days at Magic Kingdom and one at Animal Kingdom. The Animal Kingdom "safari" was fantastic - during ours, we were stopped on the road for almost an hour by some meandering adult and baby giraffes who came right up next to us, which was so cool!

My one suggestion is to have the rides you want planned out before you get up to the FastPass person - if you change your mind after they've put all your info/requests in, it is an ENORMOUS hassle to get those changes into their software system. The staff are very friendly, and every FastPass staff person who helped us out was remarkably patient with our 8-person group's crazy combinations of rides and times.
posted by augustimagination at 10:27 AM on May 22, 2014

We have gone to both parks in the past but this weekend we are using the pre-selected FastPass+ options. I found it pretty easy to do, and our friends are there already and said the wait times for the FastPass line are less than 10 minutes, with no wait in most cases. When you select the rides online, it gives you a suggested path & times based on how long it will take to get from one to the other, which is pretty cool.

I would definitely check out Animal Kingdom - it is really fun and they have an AWESOME roller coaster.

I will follow up with more info in this thread on Monday after we return.
posted by bedhead at 10:32 AM on May 22, 2014

Zoo? What zoo? Do you mean Animal Kingdom? If so, then yes - it is wonderful, kids love it, go there.
If you are going to the Central Florida Zoo (the public zoo in the Orlando area), don't. Go to Animal Kingdom.

I live in Central Florida. I go to the Magic Kingdom and Disney World several times a year. Fast pass is a must do - but any entry ticket is allowed to do fast pass. Fast pass is not something extra that you buy with some specific plan.

Generally, I would say, as soon as you walk in the park, get your fast passes. Go right to the rides, get the fast pass, and then come back.

The fast pass process is easy - and Disney workers are paid to be friendly and helpful. Basically you can fast pass up to three rides at one time. Bring the tickets to that ride, go to the fast pass line, and tell the work you want to sign up the for a fast pass for that ride. If you have two adults, I enter the park, have one adult go ahead quickly, get the fast passes, while the other adult and the kids leisurely make their way up main street.

I would also say, be there when the park opens. That is the quietest time of the day - you can usually get one of two big rides in early before the crowds roll in.

I would also suggest that when you do the brand new ride / show of Beauty and the Beast - force your kids to take a part in the show. Lots of kids are shy at first, but the show (ride) is not very demanding, and they are not really put on the spot.
posted by Flood at 10:33 AM on May 22, 2014

I haven't used that plan but I've taken trips to Disney World with 3 kids.

My biggest suggestion is plan for some downtime midday. Goggle "Places to Nap in Disney World" and get the latest suggestions. Between the walking and the heat even the 9 year old will fall asleep. Carousel of Progress was our favorite MK nap spot with comfy seats, soft lighting, and GREAT AC. Tell the ride operator that you're doing a nap and they'll let you go round and round. Pick a spot in the middle of the aisle and no one will bug you getting in our out.

Another option is to hop the monorail (another nice nap spot!) and ride to one of the hotels. The lobbies are nice spots to have some quiet downtime. You don't need to stay there to use the lobby.
posted by 26.2 at 10:34 AM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh! I forgot to mention that you should definitely play the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card game. It's a series of short scavenger hunts around the different "Lands" of the Magic Kingdom and is really, really fun and geared towards all ages. My 30-year-old fiancee and I were completely surprised at how much fun we had collecting the cards and running around to find the next clue! There's a kiosk for it right inside the entrance in the Main Street area where you can pick up one free pack of collectible cards per person per day, and they'll explain the whole game and get you started.
posted by augustimagination at 10:40 AM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Touring Plans people are great. They really love their work, are very data driven and are constantly improving the product.

The biggest tip I have is to plan to be at the entrance gate to the park 30-45 minutes before the posted park opening time. The reason for this is that the park often opens early and the first hour of the park is when the lines are the shortest. You will want to use that first hour plus your scheduled FastPass+ times to ride all the most popular and low capacity rides. A good example of this will be the Seven Dwarves mine train coaster which is opening to the public in about a week. Lines for this ride will be off the charts insane during the day so the only way to experience it without a big wait is to hit it at the very beginning of the day or with a FastPass.

Definitely nth the idea of taking some mid-day downtime somewhere air conditioned even if that means going back to your house.

Also the Animal Kingdom is wonderful for people of all ages. The themed trails that you walk to visit the animals are so well done that you often forget you are in a zoo.
posted by mmascolino at 10:45 AM on May 22, 2014

We found their plans to be spot-on. Wait was always as listed, or less.
posted by ravioli at 10:46 AM on May 22, 2014

If you have a park hopper pass, my recommendation is to hit Animal Kingdom first thing on the first day. It closes at sunset and to my mind Magic Kingdom is nicer at night. No strong sun roasting you (although it will be hot and humid) and everyone has had naps and has been fed so not too many meltdowns.

Do plan for downtime in the middle of the day. Schlepping around the parks is exhausting, to the point where my friend got the stroller for her 5 year old (although she admits, the kid is lazy.)

Hit the parks at rope drop, and do as much as you can until around 3 pm. Then head back to the hotel (hopefully you're staying on property, that makes it work!) Swim, nap, read, do something that lets you relax a bit. Then have dinner and go to Magic Kingdom for evening stuff, parades, rides, fireworks, etc.

Go to the water park on day 2 (you can go at around 10 or 11, hang out until the 2:45 thunderstorm. Go back to the room, do the rest/downtime stuff. Head back over to Magic Kingdom. This will give you a chance to chill out, rest your weary bones and tire out your kids, but not to the point of melt-down.

On day three, if you feel that you haven't really done Magic Kingdom, go back and hit the stuff you missed. Or try another park, although Epcot is not nearly as cool as it used to be (Skip the Ellen dinosaur ride, unless you want a nap.)

As for Fast Pass, you have to go to the dispenser right in front of the ride. So it's not really feasible to get three of them simultaneously because that's a lot of running, one person to Haunted Mansion (Liberty Square), the other to Space Mountain (Tomorrowland), and a third to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Frontierland). I say, hit the 'land' you're in, grab your Fast Pass, ride a couple of C and D ticket rides (Sheesh, I'm so old!) and then go when it's time to do the Fast Pass. Fast Passes have an hour in which to use them, so you can finish up the Peoplemover in time to get your ride on Space Mountain.

If you need a place to sit in the cool and avoid the rain:

The Enchanted Tiki-Room-Adventureland
Country Bear Jamboree-Frontierland
Hall of Presidents-Liberty Plaza
It's a Small World-Fantasyland
Carolsel of Progress-Tomorrowland

I will also say, do NOT get hung up in lines to meet characters. Spring for a character breakfast and get it all out of the way at one time. Some of those lines are stupid-long and there's NO fun in waiting for 45 minutes in the sun to get Pooh's autograph!

Stay hydrated, wear lots of sunscreen and rest often.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:57 AM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Something to keep in mind, as a vote against using the app to avoid wait times, is how much you'll be walking. We were there in December, and the day we did MK our pedometers clocked in at 16 miles. And we had fairly straightforward plans (go from Adventureland across to Tomorrowland, etc) and weren't zig zagging all over the park (but it was a 12 hour day, starting with breakfast before the park opened at Crystal Palace and ending with one of the ticketed Christmas party events). Our lowest milage was Animal Kingdom, but still close to 10 miles.

I'll also second being in line before the park opens. We often had accomplished more, with less waiting, in the first two hours of the park than we did later in the day combined.

And I am not ashamed of my napping in Carousel of Progress. That is a genius suggestion.
posted by librarianamy at 11:08 AM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Touring plans is ok, but I cannot recommend EasyWDW highly enough. It's written by one guy who lives in Orlando. He's funny, his touring plans are posted for free on his website, with many photos. He tests and writes extensively about the park. Here's a recent post where he talks about the best FastPast selections and how to time your day at Magic Kingdom (based on this two-day touring plan 'cheat sheet'). This link is all his resturant reviews, which include many photos. There are also free, friendly, and helpful forums.

Also, Animal Kingdom (I presume this is "the zoo" you're talking about) often empties out early in the day, so you might consider doing MK in the morning and AK in the afternoon. In this post Josh (that's the guy, Josh) talks about doing a late arrival at AK and how much easier it can be to go there mid-day. (Also, AK was -- by far -- my favorite part of our trip (we did do all four parks)).

I very honestly and truly think you'll find EasyWDW much more helpful than Touring Plans. Our family did.
posted by anastasiav at 11:10 AM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

I just wrote a wall of text and deleted it. Take a look at EasyWDW for sure, and maybe visit Kenny the Pirate if you think you're interested in meeting characters. Those character lines get long and they are generally not shaded, so get yourself a character meal, get there before the meet starts, or get a fastpass (if available).

Get first visit buttons! They have a button stand near Town Hall in the Magic Kingdom, and they will give you all free buttons saying it's your first visit. It's a fun conversation starter with cast members. There's a bunch of other fun free things too - you can do the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game, or there's a shorter Pirate game in Adventureland, and the last time I was there, if you asked, you could get a "pilot's license" for flying Dumbo. And the Photopass photographers scattered around the walkways and near characters will happily take photos with your camera, in addition to theirs.

If your schedule permits, plan to see the fireworks and night parade at the Magic Kingdom on a day when they're showing two electrical parades. Get plenty of sleep that morning (preferably through a good, LONG afternoon nap) and plan to stay up late that night. Ride some rides during the first showing of the parade (Tomorrowland looks super cool at night, and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover is a great way to see that, or the dance party if your kids like the Incredibles), watch Wishes as near to the "hub" of the park as you can (the best view is on Main Street near the hot dog place, but that is mega-crowded), and then watch the late showing of the parade in Frontierland. Nobody will be around, you can actually sit and rest on the wooden tree planter boxes, and because the crowd is so sparse, the dancers and cast members will interact with you! Plus, the park thins way out after the fireworks, so you have shorter ride lines for some last-minute things ( you can get in line until closing time!), and leaving the park after it closes, with the streets empty and the castle twinkling, is just the coolest.

But, you know, if your kids wind up terrified of the "mountains," your youngest fixates on the splash play area in Storybook Circus or a cast member with a bubble wand for two hours, and you never see Mickey a single second, you can still have a blast. Just plan lots of breaks, lots of shade, lots of cool drinks, and enjoy the (fake, meticulously sculpted) scenery. Disney World is a kick and there is nothing quite like it.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 11:41 AM on May 22, 2014

Oh, gosh, and I completely failed to ANSWER your question in my enthusiasm. I find the touringplans system to generally be accurate, although I always add (and need) extra padding for walk time, because people walk slowly and need bathroom breaks. If you use the Touring Plans plan or the EasyWDW plan, and walk with purpose for the first three hours of park operation, you will get done everything you want to do and probably then some, and still be able to leave after lunch for your nap and pool break. I think EasyWDW does a better job of recommending which rides to Fastpass, and when, so consult his cheat sheet for that. I haven't used your precise touring plan, but I have used Touring Plans, and have had great success in getting a lot done while avoiding lines with them. If anything throws you off track (broken ride, child tantrum, whatever), just skip a step or two and pick back up. If you have to skip something important, you can come back to it later with a Fastpass.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 11:46 AM on May 22, 2014

« Older Help me handle a situation with my boss?   |   Good Movies About Couples in Love Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.