A friend and I went to Disney World last Friday, and we had a great time! I thought I'd run down a summary of the trip to give you an idea of the waiting times and attack plan that we used for our trip. Keep in mind that we're two adults in our late 20's and wanted to see as many attractions as we could throughout the parks within a single day, because that was all of the time that we had. We also were budget-concious and chose not to eat at any of the restaurants there, saving them for another time in the future.
Just to warn you, but this is gonna be a LONG report, since I'm a detail freak. I hope it'll be helpful for any trip planning of your own though. Next to the rides will be something like (70 min SB, 10 min FP) to describe standby and fastpass times for the attractions. At the end, some thoughts, pros and cons.
We got to Animal Kingdom at 7:55 AM, just when the garage was opening. There were about 20 cars already there. We were at the front gate by 8:20, with probably 100 people already there. There was a character breakfast happening, so some people were able to enter early on the right hand side. Gates opened 9 AM, but I had a ticket malfunction and their printer was not working (ugggh), so I got sent to guest services to get a new ticket. We got one pretty quickly, but I felt like my headstart advantage was lost. When I got to the entrance of Asia, my god! It was a mass of humanity, easily one to two thousand people backed up forever. The rope drop happened at 9:10 and it seemed like a 70% to Everest/30% to Safaris split.
The scene at Everest was pandemonium. Confusion about where the stand by lines were and where the fastpass machines were. We found the fastpasses, along with about a couple hundred other people, so the line to get EE fastpasses was probably 20 minutes just in of itself. We got FP for 9:50 to 10:50 (it was probably 10:30 at that time), then got in the standby. 15 minutes later, we had a front row seat, and LOVED the ride and the Yeti.
From there, headed to Africa and the Safaris (15-20 minute SB). Plenty of animals, although not very active, and was an incredible experience. Went to Tree of Life for "It's Tough to be a Bug!" fastpasses, but their machines were covered. Headed straight for Primevial Whirl and got FP for 11:30-12:30. Did Dinosaur (10 minute SB). Used Priemevial Whirl FP (3-5 mins), followed by Everest FP's (10 minutes versus 50-some minute posted SB) for the back row. It's tough to be a Bug (20 min SB under a hot sun with great visuals of the Tree of Life) was the last attraction we did.
Got back in our car, left the park and ate at the McDonalds near the waterpark. It was McDonalds, but it was a very impressive, clean, and great service facility. We headed to Magic Kingdom by our car and got there at 1:30 PM. Immediately headed left towards Pirates, just when Captain Jack Sparrow became the guest of an act outside of the attraction, drawing an immense crowd. Decided to run to Big Thunder and got fast passes for 3:30-4:30, then realized we should have got them for Splash Mountain instead, because Splash's posted wait time was much longer than Thunders.
Circled back to Pirates (20 minutes SB), where Jack Sparrow was still out there drawing the crowd. Started walking towards Splash when we saw the parade starting, so we circled back to Main Street. My friend got food while I walked up to Space Mountain and got fastpasses for 4:55-5:55. As I got back to main street, the parade was hitting that part, drawing a huge crowd. We walked right onto Mickey's Philharmonic (4 min SB). Haunted Mansion (20 min SB) was next, and the ride either broke down or just stopped twice (once while in line, once while in the ride). Headed to Splash to get fastpasses for 5:30-6:30, but were not eligible to recieve ones yet because the new window had not opened yet for us to get fastpasses again. Then some guy came up to us and gave us two of his Splash FP that he didn't want to use. GREAT! Splash Mountain (5 min FP), followed by Big Thunder Mountain (5 min FP), followed by Space Mountain (5 min FP).
Started walking back to our car around 6 ish and headed to MGM, where we were in the gates by 6:30 PM. Headed to Aerosmith to find a 50-min standby posted compared to Tower of Terror and a 20-minute SB). Both attractions ran out of fastpasses. We did TOT (20 minute SB) and then checked Aerosmith, only to find a 70-min standby. We turned back, but got stopped by a woman who gave us two of her Aerosmith FPs. WOW! Aerosmith (10 min FP) was done. From there, decided to do Fantasmic for the first time, and were there at 8:10 PM. The place was mobbed, but we were able to sit back row, center, regardless, because we required the use of Reflective Captioning. I got food and then we switched for restroom breaks, so we were all set when the show started at 9 PM. An impressive and entertaining show, that's for sure. We were able to beat the crowds because we were very close to the exit area, and got out of MGM without heavy traffic.
Needless to say, we were exhausted, and there was a lot of walking to be done. I felt like the last 5 hours was unbelievable though, being able to do all three mountains with five minute waits, followed by Tower of Terror, Aerosmith, and Fantasmic.
* Animal Kingdom is a full day park. Doing it in a half-day feels like you can't truly soak it all in.
* Magic Kingdom fastpasses capacities were very impressive. Do they have the most fastpasses because they are the most popular and visited park ? Needless to say, I was happy fastpasses were more than in abundance there.
* Rope Drop. Needless and not very smart, in my opinion. The only unpleasant experience I had all day really. I do not like the feeling of being swarmed around hundreds of other people with all of us rushing towards one ride and mobbing the fastpasses machines. With Universal, I am REWARDED by being amongst the first group of people in the park, whereas with Disney, I am mobbed with a sea of humanity even though I woke up earlier and came to the park earlier than them.
* Couldnt Disney do it in some sort of rolling style ? 400 people, then 3 minutes, then 400 people, then 3 mintues, then 400 people, and so forth? Just an idea.
* Fastpasses for Everest should have been thought out a little more. They should have lines already set up for fastpass machines (at least for the first few hours of park opening) because the lines were ridiculously unorganized at the fastpass machines and stress levels were really high and evident on people s faces.
* The Yeti terrified me the first time around. An instant jolt of fear comparable only to the first time I did the near-collision on Dueling Dragons or the first time I was about to board my first looping coaster (Great American Scream Machine) as a young kid.
* Disney folks seemed more friendly than Universal folks. They also seemed a little more harried and stressed, too, while Universal customers seem more laid back and have a more relaxed atmosphere.
* My friend easily said that the two best rides were Everest and Tower of Terror. Can't disagree here.
Bottom line is that one CAN attack three of the four major Disney World parks and get virtually every headliner and super headliner attraction done. However, you're gonna be very tired at the end of the day, and you need to have a good attack plan in order to pull it off. But, it can be done, and it's exhilarating when one pulls it off. Kudos to Disney for a fun trip there.
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney California Adventure
Universal's Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Hollywood