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Sunday, March 31, 2019

5 Amazing (yet simple) Experiences Most Disney World Guests Completely Overlook

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

5 Amazing (yet simple) Experiences Most Disney World Guests Completely Overlook

If you've read my articles here on the site before, it should come as no surprise that I really enjoy the simpler moments in life in a way that is innately hard to explain. There's joy in the simplistic nature of moments at times and while that seems so incredibly vague, I'm a firm proponent of the fact that the smallest moments during your Walt Disney World vacation are the ones that truly stick with you for years on end. It's not the big ticket attractions, but rather those little unexpected moments that you end up telling stories about and sharing memories as a result of for years on end. I may sound like a broken record, but some of my greatest memories in life have been a direct result of some of these simple items included on our list today. 



Before we dive into it, I do realize that this type of activity during vacation isn't going to be for everyone. We've had the incredible blessing of being able to "grow up" in the Disney parks with multiple trips year after year and I do understand many guests really want to maximize their time "in the parks" when they're on a Disney vacation. For many it's a once in a lifetime experience and honestly that is rather difficult for me to wrap my mind around at times. Even while trying to look at this list from that perspective it's difficult for me to recommend skipping anything that has made our list simply because they've all been fundamental aspects of the memories I look back on day in and day out in my mind. 


Again, it sounds so strange and many of these things are rather out of the ordinary at first glance but give just one a shot and you may be surprised at the memories these experiences really help you develop. I'd be lying if I said this list wasn't filled the bias, but in all reality it is the definition of a bias list. These are my memories and the things that have stuck with me year after year and each have done so for so many different reasons. When something somehow, some way, manages to stick in your mind, it tends to be the moments you want to share and find ways to help others develop their own memories of to cherish. Sometimes in life you just have those moments that exceed your wildest dreams and expectations of reality and there's no better way to do that than through a simple night enjoying the under appreciated aspects of Walt Disney World.        
       

Miniature Golf the "Disney Way"

If you've hung around the site for very long, you've probably heard me rave about Disney's Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf. The location is one of those places that very few guests have taken the time to try and even fewer have taken the time to a make a night of. 

Start the night off with a meal over at Disney's Beach Club Resort at the incredible Cape May Cafe (Our full review of that can be found here). After, make the short journey over to Fantasia Miniature Golf by walking towards the Swan and Dolphin. Once the path runs into a pool on the left hand side just past the entrance to the Swan, keep following the path around to the left and there will be a small crosswalk leading across the street to course itself. The whole walk should take 10-15 minutes at most. Once you arrive be sure to check and see if your Disney resort package included a discounted offer for miniature golf. Most vacation packages include a discount offer, but even at full retail price it only costs $14 for adults and $12 for kids. 


If you're looking for the more themed experience pick the Fantasia Gardens course for unique water affects, themed holes, and an easier course. If you're looking for a challenge, consider trying the Fairways course for an incredibly difficult but shockingly unique experience with massive faux bunkers, rolling hills, and tough pin placements. I know that sounds like an odd description for a miniature golf course, but this is a unique one to say the least. Either course offers an incredible experience for guests of all ages and if you time it just right you can catch a glimpse of the Hollywood Studios fireworks and even a few fireworks bursts from Fantasmic a short distance across the street. 



All things considered it's an incredibly simple experience but one that has a way of bringing families together and creating jokes and memories that you never would have expected. When your 18 holes are complete, make the short walk back towards the Dolphin and consider stopping at the Fountain just inside the entrance of the Dolphin (on the bottom floor) to try some of the most underrated ice cream on Disney property!

To cap off the evening, make your way over to the Boardwalk Resort to experience one of the greatest overlooked aspects in all of Walt Disney World. The Boardwalk is a place that so many guests either are die hard fans of or have never even experienced. In my opinion, it's one of the very few hidden gems left in the realm of the Disney Parks and Resorts. The reflections off of the water, the street performers, and the atmosphere as a whole is something you really just have to experience to fully comprehend.                  

Time Exploring Beyond the Surface 

Once again, we're looking beyond the ordinary and to me that means exploring the things that so many guests entirely overlook. Take the time to really dig in and search your resort and the little hidden details of the place you're calling home doing your vacation. Often times, so many guests think of their resort as a place to stay for the night and end up checking out at the end of the week wishing they would have set aside a day to simply enjoy the many amenities of the resort experience. 


Even if you're not staying on property, resorts like Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside are a 15-20 minute complimentary boat ride from Disney Springs and offer a surprising array of shows and nightlife that you may have overlooked in the past. Personally, I highly recommend stopping by French Quarter for some Beignets at Floatworks and then making your way over to Riverside to enjoy the odd but spectacular show of Yehaa Bob Jackson at the River Roost Lounge. He's not there every single night but for about an hour and a half his show lights up the lounge with music, jokes, and a good time for adults (and maybe kids) with good clean fun. It's a show that's indescribable in words but well worth seeing in person at least once. I've never caught the full show but even a few minutes will leave you amazed and with a big smile on your face. 

At the end of the night, you may have to catch an Uber, Lyft, or Disney Bus back to your resort or Disney springs since the boats stop operation at 11:00pm most nights. It's not always ideal but well worth the few dollars to enjoy this gem hiding in plain sight!      
   

A Park Bench (Let Me Explain This One)

I know this sounds rather absurd, but a select crowd knew exactly what this meant as soon as they read the subheading of this section. Sitting on a bench at Walt Disney World on a warm afternoon or as a casual sunset explodes above the horizon is one of the most incredible experiences that is truly indescribable in words. As much as it is hard for me to admit it, one of my greatest memories and toughest moments to overcome on my last trip was an hour simply sitting on a bench enjoying the sites and sounds of Epcot on a picture perfect day. The sun was high in the sky, the weather was a perfect 76 degrees with a cool breeze and for a moment life stood still. Everything felt right. That's the simplest way I can explain it but in that moment I wanted to do nothing else. No attraction called out me to go sneak in one last ride, no last minute preparations needed to be done before we boarded our plane home a few short hours later and for an hour I just sat there taking it all in. 




When the time came to leave I couldn't help but ask myself, "Why isn't this what my life is like every day even if it's just for a few short minutes." As I tried to convince myself to leave, everything in me told me to stay. 

Not everyone is going to have that yearning to stay in the same way, but I can honestly say that all too short hour or so sitting on that bench just taking it all in was a true highlight of my last trip. I know it's near impossible to do this with kids, but if you can find the time or make the time, find a quiet area and just listen and watch the world around you. It's a simple joy in life and often times those moments of quiet reflection are moments that change the way you perceive the parks.             

Enjoying the Parks Like A Local

This tip is a difficult one to fully iterate to a first time guest, but one of the many highlights of getting to know the parks and touring them rather frequently is finding ways to tour Disney like a local. It's an odd concept for many of us on the outside looking in, but touring the parks from a different perspective and a perspective of "I can come back whenever I want" is an incredibly freeing experience and one of the many reasons why I recommend buying an annual pass



Take the time during your stay to step back from the go-go-go pace of jumping from attraction to attraction to set aside time to wander leisurely around the parks looking for the little hidden details, the things you've never experienced, and the things you've always wanted to do but never made time for. Jump on a raft and head to Tom Sawyer Island, spend an hour touring Sea Base Alpha, or even take the time to stroll through a World Showcase Pavilion and do so in a more in depth way than you ever have before. Pretend that time is no longer a factor and that your stay is everlasting. When you do it frees your mind to look at things from a new perspective and you'll be surprised at what you uncover. 
         

The Bay Lake Trifecta

Please excuse the horse racing lingo here (we are from Kentucky after all lol), but at it's very core one of the greatest nights you can spend at Walt Disney World isn't even spent in the parks. Instead, make your way over to a resort and start what I call the "The Bay Lake Trifecta" - the Wilderness Lodge, The Contemporary, and Fort Wilderness watercraft loop. 



Start the night with a meal at Geyser Point at Wilderness Lodge, Whispering Canyon, or even the newly renovated and redone Artist Point. At the end of your meal, dive into the little intricacies of the Wilderness Lodge. Dig for the details hiding in plain site both inside and outside of the resort itself. Once you've spent some time wandering and as sunset approaches, board a boat to Fort Wilderness. Throughout the year, the campground will be decorated and if nothing else take a moment to "step back in time" before making the final journey over to the Contemporary via that same watercraft transportation. If it's not quite time for the fireworks (it'll all depend on the sunset time for the day and the showtimes), find a snack at the Contempo or even the gift shop bakery counter near by and then park yourself a few floors up from the main observation deck and enjoy an incredible view of the sunset over Magic Kingdom before the Happily Ever After fireworks show takes to the sky. 




If you really want a unique view take the external staircase up a few floors to escape the crowds and get a much better view of the show. 
  

The Real Reason This all Makes a Difference

I've always been a believer in the fact that we should all enjoy today because nothing in life is guaranteed, but to me this is the perfect example of doing just that. In so many ways, just sitting on a bench, enjoying a classic fireworks view away from the crowds, and even enjoying a peaceful sunset changes the way you look at the Disney Parks. Enjoying those simple moments tends to slow down your ever racing mind, it pulls you out of the hustle and bustle of the parks, and allows you to sit back and simply let the worries of life drift away opening up the most incredible opportunity to reconnect with family, friends, or whoever you choose to travel with. 

It's those little moments of "escape from reality" in life that so many of us search for time and time again. It's why we take vacations and it's why so many of us will continue to pay whatever it costs to return to the parks time and time again. It's the same reason so many of us hope to move to the Orlando area at some point in life. We all desire a certain escape in life and everyone has their go-to place to leave the world behind. It may be a bench in Epcot, a seat on a boat on the Seven Seas Lagoon, or even your favorite beach in any number of cities around the world. Disney World may not be your perfect escape but it's a place that I will guarantee is likely to exceed your wildest expectations. I say it a lot but to me nothing exceeds the fact that, above all else, the important part of any Disney vacation is making the most of every minute. Roll with the inevitable issues that will arise during your Disney vacation and realize that the things you really remember will occur when you least expect it in the most unbelievable way imaginable. 

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 here 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!  
           



Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Why I Believe Only a Select Few Things "Really Matter" During Your Disney Vacation

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin


Why I Believe Only a Select Few Things "Really Matter" During Your Disney Vacation

Tonight I had 100% full intentions of sharing a far more elaborate article about what to try and not try at Disney Springs, but this idea hit me and I think it's one of the articles that a select few will really really appreciate. Nonetheless, I think it's important to share and if this seems odd to you as a prospective Walt Disney World guest or potential first time visitor, whenever you do decide to visit so many of these things will make sense.

If you're a long time Disney parks fan like me, there comes a time when you start to realize that Walt Disney World is so much more than an ordinary vacation destination. I know this sounds like the beginning of a Disney promotional campaign but stick with me for a minute.


When you go to WDW you're not looking at an ordinary theme park. I know that's easy to say but it's far more difficult to fully convey. When you're there, you're escaping the world and you're escaping the troubles that life throws at you in a normal day and setting everything aside to simply be at Disney. For a brief moment you don't have to worry about work, the struggles of daily life, that laundry you have to do, or even that situation in life that you hope to forget but inevitably returns time and time again (everyone's is different but we all have one). Life isn't perfect and Disney doesn't inherently make all of that go away, but it does in many ways eliminate what you'd normally face in life at home. It's a strange phenomenon that is oh so incredibly difficult to share in words. When you're at Disney it's like you're surrounded by a world of pure imagination.

So many of us plan our vacations for months on end and map out every little detail but once you get there those plans you made become secondary time and time again. When you arrive and you walk up to that check in counter at your resort and enter that "Disney Bubble" the simple joy of just being there never leaves until you exit property and make your journey home. When it comes right down to it, planning is great but living in the moment and enjoying every moment during your stay is far far far more important.

Dining reservations change, fastpass+ selections change, and park hours change, but that feeling is always there. Forget the reservations, forget running to that attraction you couldn't get a fastpass for, and forget having the perfect spot for fireworks viewing. None of that really matters. It's important to book and be aware of but when you're there and when you're in the moment, living in the moment and enjoying the spontaneous nature of the parks is the single best thing you can do. I can recommend any number of tips and answer any number of questions but of the few things that really matter, nothing is more important than just being there and enjoying every moment you have.



It seems so strange, but I know at least one person reading this will understand every single word and know that feeling like the back of their hand. It's the one tip you cant tell someone how to do and it's the one tip that's going to be different for each and every person.

If I had to pick three things that really matter during a Disney vacation, the simple answer is living in the moment, creating memories with the people you care the most about, and taking time to enjoy the simplistic nature of the experience. In so many ways it's not about the attractions, the food, or even the "next big thing." It's about allowing yourself to let go of life for a few minutes to enjoy what really matters. I've said it before but the memories you create at Walt Disney World are never based on an attraction, a dining location, or even a resort that takes your breath away. The memories you create are the result of the people you share those moments with. Disney is simply a metaphorical paint brush and the tool used to create the stories you'll never forget. Everyones story is different and I wholeheartedly believe that's the ultimate secret to Disney's success.  


It's no secret that life gets in the way more often than not. Just take a moment to think back at the last time you and your family sat around a table telling stories and reliving the memories you created during the day without a distraction of a cell phone or a work call interrupting the meal, or any number of different things. Disney has a way of removing all of those distractions and time after time we've sat around the table at a table service dinner in the parks and told story after story of our favorite moments of the day, or even the stories of past trips that have stuck with us for so many years. It's the ultimate opportunity to set the world aside and reconnect with the people you care the most about.


I can recall so many memories of simple moments with family while on a Disney vacation. A few right off the top of my head were an incredible night sitting at the Boardwalk overlooking a picture perfect sunset talking and watching the performers, a moment where I happened to step back and look around during a fireworks show and notice the looks of pure joy on the faces of the people around me, and even a moment quietly sitting on a bench in Epcot watching the crowds pass by with my dad.


They're all simple memories but they're the moments that make you well up with joy inside as you recall them weeks, months, and even years later. Disney has a way of putting life in perspective and it's the perfect "reset button" to make you realize what your priorities are and what they really should be. A wise person once said life shouldn't be measured by the number of breaths you take but rather the number of moments that take your breath away. I have no idea who shared those words, but it's perhaps the most fitting way to realize what really matters when you're touring the parks. It's a matter of perspective beyond all else. Life's too short to not make the most of every moment we're given. Nothing is guaranteed so make the most of every single minute.      

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 here 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!
    



Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Homecomin' Kitchen: Our New "Must-Do" Disney Dining Location!

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Just last Friday (when this article was originally written: Mid July 2017 - Updated December 2018), we had the opportunity to dine at Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' Kitchen. To be quite honest, I had heard outstanding reviews of the location, but really didn't expect an amazing dining experience. I'm happy to say I was blown away by the level of service and incredible food the dining location encompasses. 




First off, we did have a reservation for dinner on July 7th at 6:00pm. We chose to spend that day of our trip at the resort just relaxing and taking in a few final minutes of Disney before flying home on Saturday. However, we wrapped up our time at the resort a little early and decided to head over to Disney Springs. Once we arrived, we decided to try to check in early for our reserved time (nearly 2 hours early), and the staff was more than helpful getting us a table much earlier than expected. After what was likely less than 10 minutes, we were at our table! 




When you walk in the door at Homecomin' you're greeted by the smell of classic southern food and a friendly staff. At the check-in counter there's a bowl of taffy to eat while you wait or take with you after your meal. While that is simply a little detail, it's one of those things that sets a dining location apart from many others. (In a similar way, The Crazy Crab in Hilton Head Island, which many of you may have likely visited, has a characteristic key lime flavored candy at the welcome counter.) 

Once we were seated, our server arrived and really helped build the experience from the very beginning. As we pondered the menu, and attempted to narrow down our choices (which was extremely difficult because everything sounds good), our server made suggestions and helpful comments that were outstanding  Considering we were first time guests at the location, she made a special effort to share the location's story and how a majority of the items are actually "Florida fresh," and locally sourced. For me, that was a big selling point from the very beginning. Personally, if I can support the people around me in any way possible I'd much rather do that than an industry hundreds or even thousands of miles away. However, long story short, our server (Brooke - if you want to ask for her by name) was outstanding and really helped better our overall Homecomin' experience. She gave truly honest opinion of what was served and really helped build an outstanding customer service experience!



After ordering, the food arrived fairly quickly and everything was brought to us hot and fresh.  All in all, we ordered four meals: Art's Famous Fried Chicken, Fried Chicken and Donuts, The Chopped Pork Barbecue Plate, and another Famous Fried Chicken. We were fair warned that the portion size was huge by our server (we didn't heed the warning unfortunately), and she wasn't kidding. The meals are huge and I wouldn't have it any other way!  

Art's Famous Fried Chicken was the crowd pleaser for sure! Honestly, it is the best fried chicken I have eaten in my life. Each piece is breaded and fried to a crispy texture, but the best part is, a majority of the bones have been removed prior to frying (with the exception of the chicken leg), so you can essentially eat everything that is brought to you. Even the larger sections of chicken were cut around the bone making it extremely easy to eat. this particular meal is served with mashed potatoes and cheddar drop biscuits, but the side can be traded out for others on the menu. The macaroni and cheese is a $2 up charge and we'll share more on that later.   



The other fried chicken dish we ordered came with donuts opposed to the biscuits and was also outstanding. While in that particular meal you do get fewer pieces of chicken (see pictures), the meal is a simple variation of what is the Chicken and Waffles concept. The donuts aren't incredibly overbearing with sugar, and the sauce that comes with them is equally as tasty! It really offers up that sweet and savory combination that just goes great together. 


The chicken itself is amazing, it is a heavy meal, but a very juicy chicken with a ton of flavor. The sides are just as wonderful. The mashed potatoes are smooth and rich with an abundance of flavor paired with an equally creamy gravy. The Macaroni was outstanding, extremely filling, and is quite a large portion (hence the up charge). Another side we ordered, sweet potatoes, we're supposedly outstanding as well, but personally I never could stand the taste of that type of potato. I had to pass on that one.



Last, but certainly not least, the chopped pork meal was really surprising. The sauce was quite sweet and the pork was extremely tender. Also worth noting is that Macaroni is included in the original pairing for this item on the menu, so there is no upcharge to order it with this meal.   

No one in our group ordered alcoholic drinks, but I will comment and say that this is one of the few places on Disney property where you can get "real" sweet tea. I'm from the city portion of Kentucky, so going a week without sweet tea is a challenge (lol). If you're like us, enjoy it while you're at this dining location and it won't likely disappoint. 



All in all, this was one of the best meals, if not the best meal, we had during our vacation and I know I'll be returning at some point in the future (hopefully sooner rather than later!). I understand this sounds like another over-positive review, but once again we paid for all of this out of pocket and I have very few complaints. Yes, as with everything on property it was a little pricey, but that's to be expected. However, if I could change one thing, the only gripe I could come up with is that the drink prices are really high even by Disney standards. Everything considered, the staff was outstanding, very friendly, and the food was really hard to put into words. It's true southern cooking at it's finest! If you go, ask for Brooke if she's there, and don't forget to try the chicken! If you want to check out a full menu here's a quick link -> Menu and Prices


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.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to SHARE our new Disney dining "must do" with friends! If you're booking a vacation and plan on spending some time at Disney Springs, be sure to check this place out!

Honestly, I don't quite know how affiliated this property is with Disney, but they do take the dining plan and other Disney related discounts if you're interested! Thanks again! 




Sunday, March 24, 2019

Why I See Disney As The "Perfect Escape" From the Real World

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin


Why I See Disney As The "Perfect Escape" From the Real World

A few hours ago a friend of mine posted an article (go check it out here first!) that stressed the inherent realities of the social media and content sharing dilemma that so many creators understand but rarely know how to fully interpret and share. At the concepts core we all tend to share the good in life but what's often overlooked is the reality behind the social media, the content we tend to pump out, and the real world problems "behind the scenes." In my opinion, it's so easy to create this perfect representation of "reality" on a screen no matter how hard we strive to create something that's authentic and real along the way. 

It's not that sharing the good in life is inherently bad because it really does tend to put a piece of joy in our lives that otherwise wouldn't be there. At the same time, nobody wants to watch a feed full of gloom and doom doses of the real world. However, that leads me to today's topic and really what I was inspired to write today. It's a rather simple article but one that I hope shares a real world look at my life "behind the scenes" as a Disney content creator" in a round about way. 



You see, I'm no different than anyone else. Sure, I share my Disney world travel tips on the internet and truthfully I've been decently successful in doing so, but at the same time I live a real life and sometimes it's a brutally "real life." I don't say that to be negative because I love my life and the people in my life and ultimately the incredible array of blessings my life encompasses but I'd be lying if I said I lived the perfect life that tends to get portrayed both intentionally and unintentionally.

I get asked quite frequently about being "local" and it always surprises me that people assume I'm local until I take a moment to look through my own Facebook or Instagram feed. It's weird for me to look back and think about my posts and their implications because to me it's just the representation of another day chasing a dream that may never fully materialize. I'm not local and while I hope to be one day that's all a part of today's story. 


In the real world beyond the site (and I can't believe I'm actually about to share some of this) I'm a college student and have the ever present problems every college student faces. There's never enough time in the day. After class I run to work as a Range Safety Officer for a live fire indoor shooting range, and then do homework between classes, after work, and basically any other time I can find. For years, it was fairly easy to manage, but as the final semester is in full swing it's taxing to say the least. Combine that with family and other events of the day that everyone faces and there's very little down time in my life.  

A "normal" day for me typically revolves around a few short hours of sleep and most of the articles you see me post have been written between 11:30 and 2:00am. Truthfully, it tends to be the highlight of my day. I get to set the worries of life aside for a moment and simply do what I love doing. It may never be a full time job, and it may end tomorrow (I hope not), but nonetheless it gives me something to look forward to every single day and a goal to chase every single day of my life. Every moment I have I'm sharing content, making content, and going through the ever present process of getting it in front of more eyes while working to develop relationships with people that are kind enough to interact with what I share. Truthfully, those interactions are the highlights of my days and often times what gets me to the end of the day where I get to set aside life and dive into content creation.   



I may not be local, but in a weird way those moments of writing and sharing content put me "in the parks" for a few brief moments every day. It's an "escape" from the real world that I hope opens up a window in your day to do the same. 

As theme parks guests, we all go to the Disney in many cases to escape our routines and to escape the troubles of life. It's one of the benefits of just being there that is so incredibly hard to explain to anyone visiting for the first time. It seems so simple, but to me an ideal day is heading to Epcot, sitting down on a bench, and simply enjoying being there in the moment. As strange as it sounds it's one of the many things pushing me daily to find a way to make this content sharing dream a feasible realty. I'm nowhere near that being an actuality short of some massive boost in readership but at the same time the daily grind is something I couldn't live without. 



All of this tends to come off as negative, but it's not intended to be. I love my life. I love the people this content sharing journey has brought me in contact with and truthfully I wouldn't have it any other way. Nevertheless, real life is still a reality and even though I'm at Disney multiple times a year I don't live the perfect life. If we're all being completely honest nobody does. So many of us share the social media versions of reality because it's the highlights of our lives. Reality isn't picture perfect, but the people you meet and that ever present reality of life being "life" is always going to be there and often times the people you meet chasing your dreams tend to become the people you value the most and the people that will be real with you in life no matter what your social media pages may portray. Sure, I'd love to travel the country and speak about sharing content, or spend my days touring the Magic Kingdom, or taking photos around the world, but that's not a real picture of life right now, but rather a goal to chase! 



I share all of this because this is my escape from reality, and often times doing what you love in life requires sacrifice and it requires a certain level of determination that isn't always obvious. Chasing your dreams isn't the "popular" thing to (trust me on that one lol), but I encourage everyone to take a step today that could change your life tomorrow. If you have a dream, do something today to try and make it a feasible reality. I'm not a model of success, and I may never be, but I do hope that I am a portrayal of someone trying to make the most of every day and ever moment. I'm not perfect and I'm never successful with the aspiration of being positive every day, but I do hope this story encourages even one person to pursue a dream. Find a way to do what you love and then find a way to make what you love what you do every single day. The journey isn't easy but it's real in every way imaginable and something I really hope everyone tries at least once in life. 



In the end, your escape from reality and the daily tasks of life may not be Disney but for so many of you reading this it's a comparison that you "get" and "understand" in a way that I can never fully portray otherwise. Disney is the perfect escape for me and when you find what you love and love what you do you'll be surprised at where your "escape" may take you.


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 here 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!




Wednesday, March 20, 2019

5 Ways to Overcome The Ever Increasing Crowds of Walt Disney World

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

5 Ways to Overcome The Ever Increasing Crowds of Walt Disney World 

To me it feels like there's 100 different variations of this article out there on the internet shared by any number of excellent sites (and some not so excellent sites), but inevitably no two lists are the same. We all have our different "escapes" from the crowds and to me that's the ultimate testament to a well designed vacation destination. Half the battle isn't finding a place to go but rather knowing what opportunities exist that you may have overlooked. 

I share this list not because we have some secret tunnel or tucked away secret back room to escape to in the middle afternoon in Magic Kingdom, but rather to share the inevitable reality that if you try to overcome the crowds simply by trying to "wait it out" you're typically doing yourself more harm than good. If that philosophy works for you then by all means use it and make the most of it but you're likely the exception rather than the rule. 


After years of touring the parks I've started to pick up on a few select things that really tend to stick out in my mind. I know this is going to sound kind of blunt, but bear with me. The first thing I tend to pick up on is that 3:00-5:00pm exhaustion tantrum that you see each and every day in the parks. Kids (and sometimes adults) get to a certain point and they're just DONE. They're done with the heat, they're done with the walking, and they're done with Disney in many cases as a result. I'm the last person in the world that should be giving parenting advice as a 22 year old college student, but this one isn't all that hard to figure out in a majority of cases. The key to overcoming these afternoon meltdowns and conversely the insanely exhausted feeling many adults get later in the day is simply crowd management. 

It sounds too simple to be true, but with the exception of a few major holidays in the parks where crowds literally fill the park to capacity, you can solve so many problems by "escaping" from it all for even a brief moment. 

I realize this is a bit of a long winded intro but the goal was and is to set the stage in a metaphorical sense by sharing something that so many of us repeat Disney parks guests can relate to and prospective guests can theoretically visualize. As we move into today's list, keep that mental image in mind as we start off with a quite literal interpretation of the perfect 
"escape" from the crowds. This list isn't going to tell you to travel at different times of the year or on special dates or anything of the sort. In all reality, every one of us travel when we can travel. The vast majority of society is constrained by a real world schedule, select time off, or even quite possibly a school schedule for kids of all ages. In an ideal world we'd all travel when the parks were the least crowded, but as time marches on there really is no "off season" at Walt Disney World and if anyone tells you otherwise they haven't been to the parks in the last six months. It is true that some weeks are less crowded than others but with scheduling modifications and such within the parks it's not going to be a huge difference in wait times and crowd levels in the big picture. With that in mind, let's dive right into it.  



Find Your Literal Escape From It All 

I know I come at this topic from a different perspective than most, but sometimes the best way to overcome the crowds is to, quite literally, escape and do something else for a few hours. Even if you're a first time visitor to Walt Disney World, you'll immediately realize that at around 1:00-3:00pm the crowds will be at their absolute worst 98% of the year. It's a time frame that's incredibly difficult to overcome unless you simply stack your fastpass+ selections in that block of time, but even that is hard to recommend as the crowds are still overwhelming at times. 

What I do recommend is to leave the park, head to a near by resort or even your own personal resort, and relax, shop, or simply wander the property for a few hours. Not only does it give you a break from the physical crowd levels, but it also provides a relaxing stroll or even a comfortable place to sit and enjoy simply being there in the moment. 

I know so many of you reading this are thinking "That's easy for you to say, you go to the parks all the time..." and to an extent you'd be correct. We do have the incredible blessing of of being annual passholders and visiting the parks multiple times per year, but I can 100% assure you that the lost time in a busy park will be more than made up by the experience of leaving the parks for a few brief hours and returning later on. 


Perhaps the best example of this I can give happened just last week. At around 1:00 in the afternoon, crowds exploded on one of our Magic Kingdom park days as a result of Spring Break. Instead of simply dealing with it, we hopped on a boat (free and provided by Disney) over to Wilderness Lodge to grab a late lunch. After lunch we got back on the boat and enjoyed a scenic ride over to the Contemporary resort. When we got there, we utilized some of the free games out by the dock and shot a game of billiards and enjoyed the near perfect weather for a few minutes before walking upstairs to board the monorail to continue our resort hopping journey. 


By the time we made it to the Polynesian we stopped for a Dole Whip at Pineapple Lanai and once again took a leisurely stroll around the incredibly picturesque resort before moving on to the Grand Floridian where we shopped for a short while in the stores and then wrapped up our resort hopping with a few minutes in some incredibly comfortable chairs listening to the band. 

People ask me time and time again what I like most about Disney and time and time again the answer I share is in the form of a story so incredibly similar to the one I shared here. It's those simple moments that keep me coming back. It's those relaxing minutes of simply being there in the moment enjoying life that make all the difference and those are the memories with family I'll remember forever. The parks are great but more often than not some of the greatest memories develop from the simplest of experiences. If I could give one tip it would be to journey beyond the parks when the crowds become overwhelming. It may open up an entirely new realm of possibilities in the end result.
                     

Make The Most of Select Hours and Days

This is probably the most "textbook" answer you'll find on my list and I truly debated not sharing it as a result. Getting up and getting to the parks before they open will pay off big time if you can make it happen. The same is true if you can stay until close. In reality, it's one of those things that's easy to say and incredibly difficult to actually do. The first day it's easy to get to the parks super early and stay super late but as your trip continues on it catches up with you in a hurry. It's not out of the ordinary for me to run on about 4 hours of sleep when we're really trying to maximize our trips. I'm always looking for empty parks photos (which requires staying incredibly late - sometimes an hour or more after posted "closing times") and tend to go at things with a different goal in mind than most when staying late. It's far from the ideal way to enjoy your vacation. I'm fairly used to running on very little sleep as a result of running this site while working my way through college but nonetheless it even takes a toll on me over the course of a week. 

If you're going to try this, do so in a smart way. Take breaks, take a mid day nap, and maybe even head back to the resort to sit by the pool to save your energy and revitalize yourself in any way possible.

The early hours and the late hours are incredibly productive times of day no matter what park you're in. This tip in and of itself is a fundamental part of our How to Ride 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+ article and it really can make or break how many attractions you can get through during your vacation. In my opinion, Disney isn't all about the attractions, but if you're looking to do as much as possible, it truly is the only tried and true strategy that has stood the test of time.    


Don't Be Afraid to Book Dining 

I completely understand that this seems like an off the wall suggestion to overcome the crowds of the parks, but it's one of our go-to options time and time again. The fact of the matter backing this one up is that you can only fill a restaurant so full. If you run out of tables, you run out of tables. At peak times I can't tell you how many times a table service lunch reservation has saved us in so many ways. 

Not only is it a good meal and a good nourishment boost mid day, but it's also a guaranteed hour out of the heat, away from the majority of the crowds, and perhaps most importantly a needed time of rest after what has likely been a busy morning and what will be a busy night. 

There's no hiding the fact that table service meals in the parks can be expensive and I know that is an instant factor for so many guests, but when you're sitting in a packed counter service location, you'll be wishing you would have spent that extra money to book the table service meal instead. I don't say that to be judgmental or anything of the sort but rather because I've been in that situation one too many times myself. If you find yourself in a similar situation, jump back to the first tip and head to a near by resort. The Magic Kingdom area resorts in particular have excellent counter service dining offerings that are perfect for a last minute meal and they're typically far less crowded than the in-parks dining offerings. If you happen to be at Epcot or Hollywood Studios, board a boat to the Boardwalk, Swan and Dolphin, or even the Yacht and Beach Club for a quick way to remove yourself from the crowds and find a good dining option.        


Get Creative With Fireworks Viewing 

At the end of the night you'll likely want to return to the parks to catch a fireworks show if you you're not already in the parks. Sometimes fighting that urge to be on Main Street USA or in that "perfect spot" for Illuminations can work out incredibly well. For Magic Kingdom in particular, when crowds are high I highly recommend viewing the show from the Contemporary or the Polynesian. The music is piped in, the crowds are typically quite low, and the experience is almost as magical as being there in the sea of people on Main Street USA. It's a different fireworks viewing experience to say the least, but the benefits of the alternative experience often outweigh the tradeoffs. 



I can vividly remember one particular night where we left Magic Kingdom and went over to the beaches of the Polynesian to view the show. We grabbed a Dole Whip, walked down to the beach, and it truly develops one of the most incredible views you'll ever experience. From the casual crowds, to the sounds of flowing water at the pool near by, to the reflections off of the Seven Seas Lagoon as the fireworks burst high in the distance, it's an experience to remember that is truly indescribable. The observation deck of the Contemporary, while a different view, offers up a similarly unique experience. If you're up for it, climb up the external staircase a few floors to really get the perfect view and escape the crowds completely. 



Over at Epcot, avoid the temptation to be right up on the fence in preparation for Illuminations. The show is shockingly viewable from all kinds of odd angles but perhaps the best options to overcome the crowds are to find higher vantage points. Two near perfect go to spots of mine at the time being are at the top of the staircase entering the Canada Pavilion and at the top of the staircase in the Japan pavilion leading up to Teppan Edo. Both vantage points can be seen in the images below and more often than not you'll be one of the very few guests standing in these areas even on extremely crowded nights. 





Fully Utilize Your Resort    

Last but certainly not least, I highly highly recommend taking the time to leave the parks and enjoy your resort. Even if you're leaving the parks for a very short amount of time, exploring your resort is something I recommend to every single guest headed to Walt Disney World. The resorts that Disney runs are so incredibly immersive and tied to story that there's more to explore than you'll ever have time to fully grasp. It's a part of the Disney experience that nobody really expects, but quickly becomes a favorite aspect of the overall experience for retuning guests.

It's a weird phenomenon in a number of ways, but the resorts, no matter which one you choose, truly feel like home after you really take the time to explore and get to know the backstories and amenities available to you as a guest. 





If you don't know where to start exploring, stop by the concierges desk and ask about the activities planned for the day. You may be shocked at what the resort has planned for guests of all ages on that particular day! I cant stress this one enough. If the crowds are starting to get to you, enjoy your resort and explore every single aspect of it that you can. 

I know I say it time and time again, but I truly believe it's those little moments that stick with you more than anything else. When I think back on memories with family, very few memories are tied to an attraction but so many memories are tied to seemingly simple things that occur in the moment that you remember years later. 


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 here 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!





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