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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

5 Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Tips for 2018/2019

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

5 Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Tips for 2018/2019

When most guests think of Disney's Magic Kingdom, they typically think of two things: Cinderella's Castle and Fireworks. Of course, a few other things may also come to mind like the incredible attractions, excellent dining, and world class entertainment, but more than anything, when you ask a guest what their favorite part of their Disney vacation was, it doesn't take them long to mention fireworks. There is very little more iconic than fireworks on Main Street U.S.A., but at the same time, it may not always be your best option. Additionally, there's a few things you should know about the fireworks procedures and typical processes before, during, and after the show that many guests may not anticipate on a first visit or perhaps entirely overlooked on previous visits. So, without further ado, that's what we'll talk about today! 



When the Magic Kingdom's Happily Ever After fireworks show first debuted back in May of 2017, it really changed the fireworks scene and "plan of attack" to secure an excellent viewing location for the show. The show itself centers heavily around projections coupled with the main fireworks bursts high over head. Honestly, the greatest tip I can give a first time guest, which won't even make our list, is that you want to be able to see the castle for the best possible viewing experience. While that's not necessarily one of my "go-to" tips on its own, it does lead quite well into number one on our list. 



1. Find An "Open" Location

This tip is incredibly simple, but often highly overlooked. First time guests and often returning guests overlook the fact that trees along the edges of the hub area can vastly impede your view of the show. For the previous "Wishes" fireworks show there was so little happening on the Castle itself that you could really get away with a partially obstructed view. Happily Ever After is a whole different story. 

If you're staking out a spot, your best option is on the back side of the partners statue facing the castle. the problem with this location is that it gets incredibly crowded, incredibly early on. Additionally, if you aren't willing to hold your own you'll slowly end up moving further and further towards the castle stage which will actually provide a worse viewing opportunity. If you can't claim that desired partners statue spot, consider moving back to the area between the two grassy sections of the hub. It's not quite as good of a view but the spot fills in much closer to show time and you wont feel quite as overwhelmed if you don't care for large crowds.

Something to note here is that you can only stand in designated areas when waiting for the show. The closer you get to the castle, the more prevalent those viewing areas become. The key to it is to stay within the white taped-off lines on the ground. If you're out of those designated areas, you will be asked to move eventually in order to accommodate guests trying to move from one area of the park to the next via designated walkways. It's a pretty simple process, but so many guests get moved from their spots simply because they didn't know about the guidelines.           

2. Projections Don't Have to Be a Priority

This is going to sound contradictory to what I mentioned in tip number one, but in the grand scheme of things, the show is great even without the projections. I do share this tip with a bit of hesitancy though. Many of you reading this have seen Happily Ever After many times, and have had the blessing of being able to do so time and time again like me. If you know the show, this is where this tip really comes into play. If you're a first time guest, you have to see Happily Ever After from the hub at least one time. It's the perfect environment for the show and the perfect multi-sensory experience that you can't get anywhere else. From the crowds cheering, to the amazed people all around you, to the incredibly detailed projections on the castle, there really is no substitute to seeing it at least once up close and personal. 




At the same time, it's not always a bad thing to experience a change of pace and to view the show in an entirely new way and often times with little to no crowds. Head to the external staircase of the Contemporary, or the beaches of the Polynesian, or even quite possibly the Grand Floridian to see the show from an entire new perspective. They're not "better spots" or "worse spots," but simply a different feel to the whole atmosphere. It's a more laid back vibe and one that is far less densely populated with people.       

3. Avoid the Dessert Parties 

Chances are, a few of you may disagree with me on this one, but I don't see the benefits of the fireworks dessert parties as "worth it" at their current price point. I'm typically the first person to recommend food, but the value for your dollar and the time required to partake in the event simply isn't worth the cost of the experience. At $84 per adult, you're talking $336 for a family of four (if all guests are over the age of 9). Additionally, it's recommended you arrive at the party an hour in advance. In my opinion, if I'm going to spend an hour waiting around on the fireworks, I see it as better off to head up to the Main Street Bakery (Starbucks), the Confectionary, or any other food location to grab a snack and then stake out a spot near the partners statue for a better view and likely a better snack. I may be the exception rather than the rule, but it is simply a cost I can't rationalize. 



4. Don't Overlook Main Street

One of the most memorable viewings of Happily Ever After I can remember was from one particular night on Main Street U.S.A. I don't know why but there's always been something special about that location. With the new show, the crowds have largely shifted closer to the castle, but in all honesty, Main Street is still a pretty stellar viewing location. 




If you can manage to work your way through the crowds, you'll likely find a relatively small area of low crowds about half way down Main Street perpendicular to East Center Street and the Crystal Arts Shop. I have no idea why the area tends to be less popular but from my experience, it's not out of the ordinary to find a fair amount of space available even up to 15-25 minutes before show time. Obviously, the availability will vary widely with daily crowd levels, but it's well worth looking into if you're looking for a slightly less crowded area or a last minute viewing location.


5. Don't Overlook Behind the Castle Viewing Locations

Once again, I'm going to contradict tip number one on this list, but if you're working on a last minute basis or simply want to explore an entirely new and unique viewing location, consider areas behind the castle. You will miss the projections, but at the same time it's a shockingly different view of the show as it unfolds. In the Fantasyland area, and in particular the space in front of of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Be Our Guest, you end up surrounding yourself with fireworks. Due to the two different launch sites (near the castle and behind the park) you literally end up viewing fireworks over Beast's castle on the hill while having the opportunity to feel and hear the burst on each side of the castle a short distance away. The sound and the encompassing nature of this spot is hard to put into words, but once you witness it in person, it becomes one of those shockingly unique areas that you remember and hope to return to time and time again.

In the big picture of all of these rather simple tips lies one vast commonality, an experience. In the end, that's what each viewing location is all about. It's not about what you'll be missing or what you'll have to pay, or how long you'll have to stake out your location, but rather the experience you're looking to get out of your fireworks viewing. It's not a recommendation or choice that I can make for you because we're all different and we all want something different out of our time in the parks. 

You may not have an interest in fireworks and that's completely okay (even though I have no idea why you would have clicked on this article...)! Either way, a trip to Disney isn't about finding that "perfect spot," but rather creating memories with friends and family that you'll never forget. That's what Disney does better than anyone else. You never know when a simple moment could change your life or create a memory that you'll share with your family for years on end. A new tradition may unfold, a moment in time may be shared, and a change of pace may become your next favorite aspect of the parks. Enjoy the parks and do what works for YOU and you may be surprised at how much you enjoy the experience. That is what it's all about!



Your Thoughts
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are! 



Ready to Plan?
Need help planning your vacation? Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE - no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Their services are free and a great way for you to help out the site at no extra cost to you! Here's a closer look at why I recommend an Authorized Disney Travel Planner!

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.
             



Wednesday, November 14, 2018

My Top 5 "Must Do's" of Any Walt Disney World Vacation

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

know many of you likely clicked on this list to find the best attractions in each park or even potentially the best resorts as you look to plan your vacation. However, I want to take this post a slightly different way. Soon, we fly south to Walt Disney World and I thought I'd share a few things that are a 'must-do" for me on any Walt Disney World Vacation, but more importantly we'll take a look at a few of my most anticipated aspects of the vacation experience as a whole. Of course, I'll have to throw in a few experiences along the way, but if you're looking for more broad and slightly out of the ordinary things to look forward to in the realm of Disney World "must-do's" I invite you to join me on this anticipatory journey! 

For many, Disney is simply a theme park, a place to ride rides, watch shows, or enjoy a few minutes of excitement away from home. While in essence, those are entirely wonderful portions of the magic and a true part of the theme park experience, there's so much more to the experience than many first time guests (and many returning guests) take the time to enjoy. Disney is an escape from reality for many of us, a place to create memories, and truly share time with friends or family. It's not the place that creates the memories, but rather the people we share those moments with that make all the difference. 



You see, it's an experience of a lifetime, but a place that draws you back time and time again. It's a place that captures your heart, and becomes a small (or large) portion of your life. As things change and the parks continue to develop, it's easy to develop a nostalgic connection to different aspects of the magic, but as many of us know the parks will continue to grow and develop as the world around us fosters new ideas and increases creatively.


With all of that being said, there's always something to look forward to as you tour the realm of Walt Disney World. For many, it's that classic attraction that's been a part of your vacations from the very beginning, but others may anticipate the latest and greatest additions to the parks. Honestly, I fall somewhere in between and that's likely why my list is so varied. It may not be the most traditional list, but nonetheless a list that I hope will give you something to look forward to or a memory to pull from the depths of your mind as we look forward to our next trip to the parks. If nothing else, hopefully this post brings a little piece of the magic into your day! 

1. Exploring Pandora All Over Again!
Inevitably, this ends up at the top of my list for a few reasons. Honestly, it's the first thing that came to mind. In all reality though, I realize there's a reason it was the first thing to come to mind. When I first visited Pandora back in the summer, I have to say it was one of those Disney experiences that defied the rationale of what I though was possible. I was a skeptic of the land as whole when it was first announced, and I have to say I was entirely wrong to doubt the creative minds of Imagineering. As I've said before, Imagineering has never let me down and I after seeing this project unveiled on such a grand scale, I have to say that concept remains entirely true to this day. For more on Pandora check out: 


Pandora is a place that will defy your wildest dreams (and no I'm not being paid to say that... even though I wish that I was). As you round the corner into the land, often times you'll witness guest after guest experience that audible "wow!" moment. At first glance, the hyperrealism mixed with the seemingly impossible physical development is truly hard to believe. The land itself throws you into sensory overload and there's no best way to take it all in. Even knowing what to expect and what to see and not see going into the land for the first time, I didn't get to experience it all. To me, that inevitable repeatability factor of the land is one of the things I look forward to the most. I didn't quite get to explore the entirety of the development at first so setting aside time to explore the land is and likely always will be high on my list of "must-do's."   





2. Trying Something Entirely New
As many times as we've been to Walt Disney World, you'd think that we'd run out of new things to see and do. However, that has never been the case. Trying something new on your Disney vacation can open up a world of new possibilities and may even create your new favorite aspect of the vacation experience. When you travel, I recommend trying one thing that you've never done before, even if you have to create that experience for yourself. Personally, about a year ago, I started traveling with a DSLR camera for the first time and I'm looking forward to the possibilities that may create in the future. In a different regard, as you book your vacation, look into a tour offered by Disney or seek out that one attraction or show that you've overlooked for years on end. 

A few years ago, I stumbled into the show that once was a part of the animation pavilion of Hollywood Studios called Drawn to Animation. The show was simple and it was corny, but one afternoon in the heat of the summer we stumbled into the place and happened upon the experience. It wasn't an elaborate show, but rather something we had always looked right past. Unfortunately the show ended a few months after we saw it for the first time, but little "hidden gems" of Disney are hidden in plain sight around every corner. Sure, a few of the lesser known aspects of the parks could be "duds" in your opinion, but you never know what may be outstanding in your eyes but overlooked by a vast majority of guest altogether.      

3. Exploring a New Resort
Resorts are a huge part of any of our Disney vacations. We eat at resorts, obviously stay at resorts, and explore many of them in depth. To many first time guests this seems like an absurd concept, especially because we typically aren't staying at many of the resorts we visit, but it's a unique portion the Disney experience. Go try a new meal at resort you've always dreamed of staying at, or go to a resort searching for something "hidden in plain sight." You may be surprised at the history and entertainment many of these unique places hold and unveil when you take the time to look a bit deeper. If you've never tried this before, the Wilderness Lodge or Boardwalk Resorts is an incredible place to start.    




4. Take A Moment to Take It All In
It's easy to get distracted by the fast paced nature of Walt Disney World, but one of the things I look forward to time and time again is taking it all in. I know that sounds far to simple to really appreciate, but take a few minutes during your trip to remove yourself from the crowds or change your mindset just slightly in order to step back and observe the little things happening around you. Look around and enjoy the smile on the faces of the guests around you, the little details you may have overlooked on the "race" to the next attraction, or even to sit down and listen to the ever present background music that plays throughout the parks and resorts.   


5. Enjoy Every Second
As the last "must-do" on my list, this particular element often comes across as common sense when in reality it is increasingly easy to overlook. You get distracted by what you're doing, you race from attraction to attraction (which can be a ton of fun), but you never stop and appreciate the moment. I know it's easy to say that, but I struggle with this element every trip. Inevitably something will go wrong during your trip. A resort will be overbooked, you'll miss a fastpass, or get in an argument with the guy who ran over your feet with his stroller. None of those things are fun, but in the big picture, it's a small hiccup in overall Disney experience. 

Try and overlook the little things and make the most of every second of your trip. Turn every bad situation into an opportunity to try something new and you'll be surprised at what kind of unexpected magic could be unveiled. I look forward to the unexpected aspects of Disney more than just about anything because what you don't anticipate is what often times sticks with you the longest. Making the most of those situations can make all the difference and create those one of a kind situations that you remember for years to come.           




When we first started today, I told you my list would be bit strange, but to be quite honest these are a few of the things I see guests overlooking or avoiding time and time again. Seeing something from a new perspective can allow you to appreciate the experience so much more than you ever have before. We never know what tomorrow brings, so taking the time on a vacation to appreciate the moment is more important to me than any attraction, show, or even a dining location. 

It could all end in a second, but I say that for a reason beyond what this article may state. No, I don't want to be grim but rather positive and to encourage you to take a step back while you travel the parks and just enjoy the moment and lock in those memories that will truly last a lifetime. We never know what tomorrow could bring, so making the most of every moment we have today is a key part of any Disney vacation. It sounds so simple in writing and to be quite honest it's a part of the experience that is incredibly difficult to portray in words, but there's something about Disney that makes you appreciate all that you have and the people that help make that experience a reality in so many ways. I've said it before, but I truly believe it's the people that create the true Disney difference rather than any particular resort, dining location, or attraction no matter how wonderful those things may be.    


Your Thoughts
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are! 

Ready to Plan?
Need help planning your vacation? Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE - no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Their services are free and a great way for you to help out the site at no extra cost to you! Here's a closer look at why I recommend an Authorized Disney Travel Planner!

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.



Tuesday, November 13, 2018

5 of Our Favorite "Hidden Gem" Spots in All of Walt Disney World - 2018

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Our Favorite "Hidden Gem" Spots in All of Walt Disney World - 2018  


Most of the time when you see a title like this you'll be met with "favorite" attractions with short wait times or even quite possibly a few dining locations thrown in the mix, but today I want to do something a bit different and hopefully something a touch more creative. Today, I hope to share quite the opposite perspective and share a few of the somewhat "little known" locations at Walt Disney World that aren't attractions, stores, or even dining locations (which will be hard to leave out!) in order to focus on an even simpler aspect of the parks and resorts in the realm of not only theming but setting and experience beyond what you may expect. So, rather than trying to explain what I mean, it's a bit easier if I just show you and bring you along on a photo journey through "spots" I consider to be hidden gems of Walt Disney World. 

You see, about 8 months ago I started photographing the Disney parks. While at first it was just something I wanted to try, I slowly realized that the age old saying of "a picture being worth a thousand words" is not only true but rather an under exaggerated statement that should potentially carry more weight than it does. As I started sharing photos from the parks, the response was different than what I expected. Not only were readers incredibly complimentary (which I truly appreciate as a very amateur photographer) but many mentioned how the photos took them back to Disney and made them feel like they were there for even just a fleeting few seconds.

From the beginning that concept was something I wanted to bring to this site/blog (or whatever you'd like to call it). I wanted to create a place that took you back to the parks for even just a brief few moments somehow or some way each and every day. So, when I thought up this concept for an article my mind didn't entirely go straight to attractions but rather to those photos and those "spots" at the parks and resorts that so many guests overlook entirely. To me, it's those more creative and perhaps less iconic photos that I enjoy sharing more than anything else, because if you know these spots and you know that experience as a whole they have a way of taking you back to that moment no matter what the quality of the image may be. A picture may be worth a thousand words but at the same time it captures a story that transcends my own personal experience and opens the door to the stories I get to hear from readers. We all perceive things just a touch differently, but at times those differences allow us to see things in entirely new ways. 

That concept is my goal for this article more than anything else. If I can share just one new hidden gem "spot" for you to explore and create a story of your own in experiencing it for the first time, it will be a success in my mind. Before I officially "begin" I do have to add that some of these are far more "hidden" than others and truthfully what may be "hidden" to me may very well be a staple of every trip you've ever taken to Walt Disney World. My goal is a variety spots that give every guest something new to look forward to and a good blend of truly unique spots with a couple I simply see as underrated or under appreciated. With that out of the way, let's jump right into it! (If you're on a mobile device and want to see these photos in higher quality, simply tap the photo). 

1. East Center Street 

In the early years of Walt Disney World, Main Street U.S.A. was a very different place than what it is today. Many of the storefronts were actual stand alone shops, and the layout lended itself to a city style atmosphere that was a touch more eccentric in shopping offerings for lack of a better word. From the Hallmark Card Shop to the House of Magic and those massive plants sold at the Greenhouse Flower Shop, Main Street was a different world but the true change arrived when West Center Street was officially filled in. Truthfully I can only vaguely remember seeing West Center Street in person because it really wasn't around that long in the time period when I was old enough to remember it. After closing for the expansion of the emporium in 2001 the entire street was essentially lost. However, a casual hidden gem remains on the east side of the cross street splitting Main Street U.S.A. (ironically named East Center Street.) The street is a touch tucked away but the history it holds and shares with guests in an oh so subtle way is hard to put into words. 

From a views standpoint it truly is spectacular at night. The glistening lights of Main Street and the guests strolling about completely unaware of this little side street makes for an excellent location to sit back and relax for a few moments as the music plays and the sights and sounds of main street surround you. 


2. The Gardens of Japan

Epcot's Japan pavilion is perhaps one of the more unique hidden gems on this list for a couple of reasons. One, you wont find it laid out specifically as an "attraction" on any park map and two, because it's one of those things many locals know about and would love to keep to themselves. I'm not a local but can completely understand why they would want to keep this spot a hidden location in Epcot. On any given day you enter the main area of the Japan pavilion, take a few steps off to the left hand side and up a short hill to be surrounded by a gentle flowing stream, grab a quick snack (the more popular area of the garden), and enjoy a few quiet minutes taking in the sites and sounds of the garden. 

You can see Spaceship Earth in the distance but it's largely a transformative experience and one that makes you feel, even for the briefest of minutes, that your away for the hustle and bustle of the parks and Orlando as a whole to enjoy a few minutes of peace. It sounds so strange but this little garden area has a very calming essence to it and is one of many places at Walt Disney World I'd love to have the time one day to just sit down and enjoy for a few hours. Of course, that luxury of time is something only a select few have as we tour the parks and resorts, but nonetheless a cool spring or fall night in this spot for a few hours will always be a "wish list" item for me if I ever end up being a local.  

     

3. The Boulder Ridge Villa Lobby 

As many of you may know, this is and likely always will be my favorite hidden gem in all of Walt Disney World. I've raved about this little quiet spot for well over a year here on the site and I don't see the praise stopping anytime soon. To me, this "hidden" simple experience is one that every true Disney fan should experience at least once and one that only the most obsessed of us will likely appreciate at first glance. It is, without a doubt, the definition of a hidden gem. 

The Boulder Ridge Lobby is spectacular in a very subtle yet vastly recognizable way. As soon as you step through the doors (just a short walk from the main Wilderness Lodge Lobby) you're surrounded by a quaint woodsy feeling lobby with a high peaked ceiling and recognizable smell that is incredibly difficult to appreciate without experiencing it first hand ("smellovision", or rather "smellonet" in this case, can't come soon enough!). The beauty of the lobby paired with large soft chairs, ample seating and a crackling fireplace lends itself to a sensory experience that is rivaled by very few. 

As wonderful as this location really is, miraculously it's vastly overlooked by nearly every guest visiting wilderness Lodge that isn't staying in the villas. It's a bit amazing really. even with hundreds of guests making their way to their villas each night, it's rare to see more than four or five guests sitting in this spot. Perhaps it simply gets overshadow by the far larger and slightly grander lobby just a short walk away in the Wilderness Lodge, but to me this smaller area has so much more character than it's "larger brother." 

On top of all that, there's a certain history to this place that is perhaps the reason I appreciate it so much in the first place. As mentioned in my Outstanding Disney History Hiding in Plain Sight: The Carolwood Room article, this is one of the very rare places in Walt Disney World where you can actually see something that Walt physically laid his hands on and something that wasn't necessarily about the parks but rather his personal joy and passion from his daily life. You see, all the attractions and all the details Disney can develop in the parks can show you so many things and take you to so many different places, but only one is dedicated to Walt's personal passion and a part of something that was once in his very own back yard. This room, attached to the lobby is a window into Walt's life and a window that opens the door to the exploration by guests into who Walt really was. It gives perspective to the statue on Main Street so many guests pose for photos with each day, and it allows guests to uncover something truly unique. In my opinion that's the true essence of a "hidden gem" in it's finest form. So many guests have sat in this room or walked by this seemingly simple display of props but only a select few dive deeper and uncover a piece of the true Disney Magic hiding in plain site.    


    


4. The Boardwalk at Sunset    

Moving in a slightly different direction, if you've never took the time to step away from the parks and catch a sunset at Disney's Boardwalk Resort area, it is worth every second of your time.  I don't know why and I don't know how but sitting on that Boardwalk and those carefully placed wooden planks over the water sets up the most picturesque sunsets you'll ever witness in your life. It's not every night, but as if by clockwork, if there's clouds in the sky you can expect a truly spectacular unveiling of colors across the sky. With the view over the Yacht and Beach Club in the distance, and the Swan and Dolphin perched high on their accompanying resorts, the light reflects off of the buildings and the water and the worries of the world seem to slip away as the sky explodes with color. On our last trip I spent a little over an hour trying to capture this setting in a photo and thankfully ended up with two that come somewhat close to sharing those fleeting minutes of color with you all in a photo. It's impossible to fully capture but hopefully these encourage you to take that leap and step away from the parks to enjoy a more laid back night embracing the beauty of Walt Disney world in an entirely new way. (Again, feel free to click on the photos to see a higher resolution image on mobile.)     



5. Magic Kingdom After Close  

As perhaps the most obvious of locations on our list, Magic Kingdom after close makes you rethink Disney in a way that only a few truly appreciate time and time again. A few of you might be wondering how it is possible to get in after the park closes for the day, but in reality you just postpone leaving as long as possible. As ridiculous as that sounds, it's quite normal for Magic Kingdom to be open up to two hours after the posted closing time. Slowly but surely they clear the lands but Main Street U.S.A. is open for quite some time. If you can stick it out and wait until the bitter end, you'll be surprised at how the Magic Kingdom transforms. For the nostalgic Disney fan it's a dream come true. The crowds slowly trickle out of the park and while a few late diners or final riders of the day wrap up, you can walk around a fairly empty hub, enjoy a quiet Cinderellas castle view and enjoy a moment you never thought you'd get to. It is, in its simplest form an "empty" Magic Kingdom and for a brief few minutes you get to feel what Walt must have felt as he walked through Disneyland late at night as his dream slowly but surely became a reality. Security can be a touch aggressive at times and on rare occasion a bit touchy, but if you're friendly and non-confrontational, savoring those final minutes of the night can be one of the most memorable moments you'll ever experience at Walt Disney World.





You see, often times a "Hidden Gem" spot can be something oh so incredibly simple and I'm a firm believer that the simplest moments tend to be the things we remember the most years down the line. It's what keeps us coming back and trying new things in a way that is incredibly difficult to describe without experiencing it first hand. Enjoy every little moment because you never know what will stick with you years down the road.  

I am far from a professional photographer, but I hope at the very least these photos help put you in the scene for even just a brief moment and may have even taken you back to a moment in time where you experienced your own iteration of these stories portrayed by our "hidden gem" spots. Perhaps more importantly, I hope this gives you something to look forward to in the future and a look behind the lens (for lack of a better word) at some of the stories behind my various photos shared over the last month or so on Facebook and Instagram. If you have questions or simply would like to contact me directly, feel free to email me at guide4wdw@gmail.com with photography questions, comments about this post, or any suggestions you may have for the site. This isn't my site, it's yours in every way shape and form and I wouldn't have it any other way. Have a question about planning or while on your trip? Feel free to send that my way as well!  


Your Thoughts


As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!



Need a Travel Planner?


If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.


Ready to Plan?


Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.



Monday, November 12, 2018

Our Ideal 1-Day Walt Disney World Itinerary for 2018

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Our Ideal 1-Day Walt Disney World Itinerary for 2018 

For many of us that have been to Disney time and time again, it seems a little strange and a bit weird to think about having one day to spend at Walt Disney World. Many of us spend a week or more touring the parks and resorts and still don't mange to get done all that we hope to accomplish. It's an inevitable reality that presents itself time after time, but I don't say that to discourage you from taking a day to explore Disney World, even if you just have  single day or even a few hours to explore a small portion of what there is to offer on property.

Many of you reading this will find yourself on a work trip in the Orlando area or on an extended layover at Orlando International Airport at some point and may just have one day to get away for a while and enjoy some time in the parks. Again, it's weird for many of us who vacation to the parks year after year to think about, but there are tons of guests arriving at the gates of the parks each day that only have one day to spend at the happiest place on earth.



A majority of those guest come unprepared, don't have tickets, and have no idea what they're walking into, but they all have one thing in common, expectations. Disney World is one of the most sought after destinations in the United States and for fairly obvious reasons, but in today's Disney planning scenario, it can be tough to set up one day and vastly enjoy all that even one park has to offer. 

So, as a result we're taking today to look at what we'd do if we had only one day to spend in one park. I will preface this with the fact that we've been in this situation before and while it isn't ideal, you'll be surprised at how amazing your day can be with the limited amount of time available to you. However, to make the most of the time, you have to arrive with a plan and this is the plan we'd go with. 


What Park Do You Go To?


If I had never been to Walt Disney World I'd have to spend the time I had exploring Magic Kingdom in 2018. Now, I say in 2018 for one reason and largely one reason only. As the parks grow and new expansions are unveiled over the next 2 years, including Star Wars - Galaxy's Edge, my opinion on which park to visit could likely change. Honestly, I would even consider going to Epcot and originally that was my pick for this 1 day itinerary. As I thought about that decision, I took a step back. I redirected my thoughts and considered the scenario once again from a different perspective. If I was a first time guest, what park would leave a lasting impression on me?

The answer I came up with wasn't ideal, because what came to mind was our 7 Day Itinerary. Then I realized one more thing and that was that the point of one day at Disney isn't about doing everything but rather taking the time you have and making the most of it. It's not going to be the perfect trip, but for one day you get the opportunity to escape the world for a few minutes and enter a place of pure happiness. So, the answer I came up with wasn't my favorite park, Epcot (with our Our Tried and True "Epcot in a Day" Touring Plan), but rather a place described best as where you can "leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy,” the Magic Kingdom. 

What Ticket Do You Buy? 


Honestly, you're only going to need a one day ticket to the park and the cheapest place and most reliable place (other than Disney themselves) I've found to buy that is the Official Ticket Center online. It's quick, it's convenient, and you may save a few dollars along the way. For longer stays, you may even catch a free upgrade through them, but I recommend checking out our 2018 Discount Disney World Tickets post before you dive too deep into the ticket buying process for longer stays.

Our Ideal 1-day Disney World Itinerary - Crescent Lake

All things considered, I'd go with a base one-day ticket *without* the park hopper option if you're only doing one day in the parks. Truth be told, you won't have time to park hop without wasting a lot of unnecessary time in this situation. This one tip alone goes against just about everything I talk about in our 2018 Disney World Vacation Planning Tips article when talking about tickets, but in this rare case I can genuinely say to avoid the park hopper (it kind of hurt me to say that lol). Save the money you would have spent on that add-on and see if you can find a table service dining reservation at any location in the Magic Kingdom on the My Disney Experience App.  It can be tough to secure a reservation at the last second but use our last minute reservation tips and you should be able to come up with an excellent meal even on the day of your time in the park.

If you're looking for meal suggestions, I highly recommend looking into:

-Crystal Palace - For a fun filled family character meal with Pooh and friends. There are a ton of great options on the buffet for both kids and adults and the atmosphere is quite elegant as you look out the glass windows towards Cinderella's castle. At the same time, the dining location remains extremely kid friendly and is a place for the whole family to enjoy.

-The Plaza Restaurant - If you're looking for a slightly more budget friendly offering without going to exclusively quick service locations, the Plaza offers a nice blend of classic cheeseburgers and sandwiches of different varieties while mixing things up with a Honey Barbecue Brisket Macaroni and Cheese. If you get the chance to talk with the chef, he'll make your day and share a few culinary tips with you along the way. Ask about his secret to getting rid of that "Florida water" taste! It'll blow your mind and he'll likely remember your visit and you for years to come. We met with him years ago about an allergy some of our friends deal with and he remembered us literally 8+ years later!

-Liberty Tree Tavern - Liberty Tree tends to be a guest favorite of Magic Kingdom. If you're looking for classic Thanksgiving-esque style food, this is an excellent option. Honestly, I haven't been to this one in years, mostly because an extremely heavily meal rarely intrigues me on a sunny Florida day, but it's definitely worth a look if you've never tried it before!     

How to Make the Most of Your Time - Our Ideal Itinerary 


If you clicked on this post or Google brought you here, you likely came for what I'm about to share. I appreciate you having confidence in our planning abilities that are based on experience, but I will say that you'll likely have to modify our plan slightly to fit your needs. Everyone wants to do something different when they head to Magic Kingdom. We all want to see different attractions, eat at different locations, and honestly just see different things. With all of that under consideration, I can say with confidence that if you use this plan, I can nearly guarantee you'll have an excellent day that will be memorable for years to come. 

With that, we'll dive right into it and share exactly what we would do and have done to make the most of a limited amount of time on Disney property. 

First and foremost, if at all possible, get there when the gates open, if not a few minutes before they open. The Magic Kingdom welcomes guests before it's official opening and allows the earliest of individuals to explore Main Street before the attractions and other areas of the park officially debut for the day and the welcome show is performed on the castle stage. If you get there early enough, you'll have plenty of time to scout out some hidden gems of Main Street (like these below) or many others you may uncover on your own that can be found in the "history" section of this site: 
I share these not to build page views to those article (ok, well maybe I do to an extent lol), but rather to share with you an aspect of the parks that many guests miss on one day trips that could leave you with a much greater appreciation for what you experienced during your day in Magic Kingdom. The history of the place is what sets it apart form many other parks across the country and the attention to detail is unparalleled when you take the time to take a closer look. Additionally, those extra few minutes allow you a bit of time to explore the gift locations of Main Street and get a better idea of some special souvenirs you may want to take home with you to commemorate the experience or share a piece of the magic with a friend or family member back home.

Our Ideal 1-day Disney World Itinerary - Epcot Monorail


Ideally, after catching the opening show at the castle, you'll head to one of your favorite attractions and begin the process we've used to Ride 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+! That detailed process is one that we've been using for years and it's the key to taking full advantage of the first hour and a half to two hours after the park officially opens. 



Once you get done with all of those attractions, we recommend trying to find a way to eat breakfast or lunch at Crystal Palace. It is a tough reservation to secure at the last minute, but if all else fails attempt to do a walk up and ask if you can wait for a table. They wont always let you wait, but it's worked for us time and time again over the years.

I recommend Crystal Palace for a few reasons. First and foremost, we've had great experiences over the years there. Second, it offers a buffet that most guests can find something they'll really enjoy eating. Lastly, it's a great way to escape the heat of the summer months as it begins to build in the late morning and early afternoon. You'd be surprised how much of a difference an hour or two in the AC opposed to a few hours in the Florida summer heat can make. In the long run, it'll give you more energy for the rest of the day and you get the chance to eat at our favorite Table Service Breakfast on Property.  

After that meal, I'd recommend heading to a few attractions with shorter wait times (typically its a small world, The Peoplemover, or even the Magic Carpets of Aladdin for a quick set of attractions before the afternoon parade begins. (If you're looking for spot for the parade, I highly recommend the center hub of the park near the Partners Statue or up near the Car Barn at the front of the park. 

Once the parade ends, you'll be well into the peak crowd level for the day and it's a great time to head back to Main Street to do some shopping and cool off again in the air conditioned stores rather than spending that time in an attraction queue. As night starts to set in, catch a few more attractions like Haunted Mansion, or even visit Tom Sawyer Island before catching a quick service dinner or a snack. If you can manage it, try to set up your remaining fastpass+ selections for this point in the day.  

I know, it may be very difficult to get exactly what you want if you buy your tickets last minute or if you didn't plan on visiting the park originally. Either way, take what you can get when you can get it. If you can buy your ticket further ahead of time, do it and then immediately book your fastpass+ selections at the 30 day window for non-resort guests or 60 days for resort guests.

At the end of the day, you'll want to catch one last thing before leaving the park and that's the Happily Ever After Fireworks. It's an excellent show and one I highly recommend so grab an ice cream sandwich at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor and claim your spot about 30 minutes before the show (or an hour+ if you're picky about your "spot"). When the performance in the sky is complete, don't do what most guest do and head for the exits. Stick around the park and head back over to some attractions (if the park is remaining open) for a few last minute attractions. Once the park officially closes for the day, you'll no longer be able to get in line for attractions, but continue to stick around until about 30 minutes to an hour after close for the Kiss Goodnight and to close down the park. The collaborative experience is something you wont want to miss and is truly the perfect way to end a one-day itinerary. 



Wrapping Up


At the end of the day, you'll likely have experienced nearly every attraction in the park, and if all worked out as planned you'll be eager to return at some point in the future. Many guests will leave the Magic Kingdom with a series of memories, a positive outlook, and a greater appreciation for the place created by a man with a dream. It's an empowering experience and one that encourages you to take a step and pursue that one thing you never thought could become a reality. I say this for a reason, but also as a motivation. Two years ago, I never thought I'd be where I am today and doing what I'm doing right this second. The theme park experience not only gave me a place to explore but a location that has brought so many people into my life that I never expected. Once you visit Disney, you become a part of this community that is so difficult to explain. It's a wonderful group of people and a community like nothing else. 


Walt said it best, it takes people to make a dream a reality. At the time when that was first shared, he likely didn't know what that simple phrase would become to so many. He created a place not only for cast members to grow and learn, but also a place that fulfills dreams and creates an escape from reality for so many of us time and time again. I share all of this for one reason and that is to encourage you to take whatever amount of time you have to visit the park and to make the most of every minute. You may not have enough time for a full day at Magic Kingdom, but take the time you have and make the most of it. You never know when a simple experience may develop a new favorite aspect of your life and a place that you want to return to time and time again. 


Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!


How Do I Create These Posts? 

Every once in a while I get questions about my gear. This is what I use and highly recommend at the moment in the realm of content creation. This list is varied and tends to change from time to time, but this is my current set up of gear used to create these posts. If you have any questions or need some tips in the site building process, feel free to message me on Facebook!

ComputerMacbook Pro  
If you get one of these you'll inevitably need dongles (The USB-C Struggle): 
Main DSLR CameraNikon D3400 
Tripod for Night PhotographyPrimaPhoto Traveler 
Photo Editing SoftwareLightroom 6 Stand Alone Version (Not Creative Cloud) 
Secondary Camera: iPhone 7 (Older Photos on the Site) 


Ready to Plan?

Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE - no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Here's a closer look at why I recommend an Authorized Disney Travel Planner!

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.

                



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