So your headed to Walt Disney World, but you only have time for a long weekend. Although it’s certainly not the ideal way to see “The Happiest Place on Earth”, it definitely can be done, especially if you’re willing to hit the parks early, stay late, and be content with only catching the highlights. Even though you’ll only be touring for 3 days, buy a 4-day Hopper Pass (unused days never expire) in order to visit two parks on the last day. Stay on Disney property for easy access and pre-arrange priority seating, Disney’s answer to dining reservations, weeks before your trip by calling 407-WDW-DINE. Most importantly, bring along a great pair of walking shoes and lots of energy. Hang on for a whirlwind of a tour.
Friday at The Magic Kingdom
1. Arrive one hour prior to opening which allows enough time to park, shuttle to the Ticket
and Transportation Center, and cruise over the Seven Seas Lagoon by monorail or ferry to the park’s entrance.
2. Grab a quick breakfast at the Main Street Bakery. They usually begin serving their mouthwatering pastries around thirty minutes before official park opening time.
3. Head straight to Splash Mountain in Frontierland, then take in Big Thunder Mountain next door.
4. Cut back through the hub to Tomorrowland, pick up a Fastpass (Disney’s nifty, free, timesaving device allowing you to return at a given time with little or no wait in line) for Space Mountain (if necessary). During your wait see ride Buzz Lightyear.
5. If anyone in your party is interested in the Fantasyland attractions (as I usually am) go there now. It will probably be necessary to pick up a Fastpass for either Peter Pan’s Flight or Winnie the Pooh, so check it out first. Ride Peter Pan’s Flight and The Many Adventure of Winnie the Pooh and be sure to see Mickey’s Philharmagic.
6. After Fantasyland have a fast food lunch at the Pecos Bill Cafe.
7. Pick up a Fastpass at The Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square before settling down for the afternoon Share a Dream Come True Parade at 3 PM.
8. After the parade, head to The Haunted Mansion and then to the Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland.
9. Make a priority seating reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table or Tony’s Town Square Restaurant for dinner and enjoy the park until the evening’s festivities begin.
10. See the SpectroMagic parade and the don’t-you-dare-miss Wishes fireworks.
Saturday at Epcot
1. Have breakfast at your hotel and be at the park one half-hour before opening time.
2. Head to Mission Space and Test Track first and then move over to the west side of Future World to see Honey I Shrunk the Audience at the Imagination pavilion.
3. Hop next door to The Land where you’ll want to ride the Living With The Land attraction.
4. Ride Spaceship Earth.
5. Move on to the Universe of Energy.
6. Head to World Showcase and pick up a late lunch at one of the many international fast food spots.
7. Work your way around World Showcase for the remainder of the afternoon, making time between stops for shopping and a few highlights including Maelstrom in Norway, the Reflections of China film, The American Adventure show, and Impressions de France.
8. Make priority seating at one of the World Showcase restaurants for 7 PM. My favorites are Mexico’s San Angel Inn, France’s Bistro de Paris, and Morocco’s Restaurant Marrakesh. Search for a nice viewing spot around the lagoon for the 9PM Illuminations spectacular about thirty minutes prior to showtime.
Sunday at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney-MGM Studios
1. Have breakfast at your hotel, head to the Animal Kingdom, and be at the park gates one half-hour before opening. Use the time before rope drop to walk the paths of the Oasis.
2. At rope drop head straight to Kilimanjaro Safaris and then walk the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
3. Backtrack to Discovery Island to take in It’s Tough to Be a Bug then head to Asia and walk the Maharaja Jungle Trek.
4. Work in the Festival of the Lion King at Camp Minnie-Mickey sometime during the day. If you have young children, stop for a visit at the Character Greeting Trails.
5. Pick up a fast food lunch. My favorite is the Tusker House in Africa.
6. Then it’s time for Dinoland. Pick up a Fastpass (if necessary) to Dinosaur. During the wait take in Primeval Whirl at Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama.
7. It will now be late mid-afternoon and time to head to Disney-MGM Studios. Thrill junkies should immediately head down Sunset Boulevard to the Tower of Terror and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
8. If touring with young children or if thrill rides aren’t your cup of tea, skip the scary
rides and see the The Voyage of the Little Mermaid then the Great Movie Ride. Afterwards take The Magic of Disney Animation tour.
9. Ride Star Tours and if there is time see Muppetvision 3-D.
10. Make the latest priority seating possible for a late dinner at the Hollywood Brown Derby for dinner. Head back to your hotel and collapse.
Cara Goldsbury is the author of The Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World: How to Get the Most Out of the Best Disney Has to Offer available at 800-247-6553, www.luxurydisneyguide.com, Amazon.com, or your local bookstore.
Visit her at www.luxurydisneyguide.com.