A LENGTHY REBOOT

By Richard Hsu
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How to Disney

If you are staying at a Disney Resort hotel and you bought day passes (1 park per day) for all four parks, then the first thing to decide is which park on which day.

Three things to consider:

1) Day specific events
Firework shows don't happen every day. During our visit, the Magic Kingdom fireworks was on Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday only. This is the best fireworks show I have seen so you should not miss it.

2) Extra Magic Hours
On select days, parks are open earlier or close later only for Disney hotel guests. Disney calls this extra time "Extra Magic Hours". During our visit, Animal Kingdom had Extra Magic Hours from 8am-9am on Tuesday. We used that early entry to line up for the very popular Avatar Flight of Passage ride*. As we entered Animal Kingdom, I saw a line of visitors (not staying at Disney hotel) that weren't allowed to get in yet so the one hour head start does make a difference.

3) Arriving and Departure days
On the day you arrive or depart, you will not have a full day so either don't visit a park or pick one that you can enjoy in the shorter day without rushing. We arrived Saturday noon and didn't visit any park. After a leisurely lunch, we spent the afternoon shopping at The Loop outlet. On the day of departure, our bus from hotel to airport was at 5.45pm so we picked Epcot for that shorter day since it seemed the most relaxing**.

Planning help
Please refer to the guide for park hours to find out Fireworks days and Extra Magic hours.

I had three guides in my pocket all the time and used it often. You can get these at the hotel or parks.

  1. Times Guide for all parks. This is a weekly guide for park hours, Extra Magic Hours and times for popular events.
  2. Times Guide for the parks. One per park. This is a two page park specific list of times for popular attractions and events.
  3. Guide map for the parks. One per park. Large well made map of the park, attractions, restaurants, washrooms etc.

They have a mobile app that is very useful but the Wi-Fi in the parks wasn't reliable so we used the paper guide and maps most of the time. We did use our roaming data connection to check wait times for rides.

Next
After selecting the park to visit for each day, next comes selecting three FastPass for each park.

*Still ended up waiting for over an hour for the ride but it was worth it. Due to height restrictions, my daughter couldn't go so the wife stayed with her while my son and I went in. To our pleasant surprise, we got a FastPass that the wife used to get into the ride later without starting at the beginning of the line again. She waited just 30 mins compared to the normal 2 hrs wait.

**After 3 days of rides and shows, Epcot was indeed more relaxing and we didn't wait more than 10 mins for any show or ride thanks to our FastPasses. I wish we had more time to cover all the countries and the variety of food options. I understand now why some say it is their favourite park.