Podcast Episode 184: Disney Flower & Garden + Universal Orlando Trip Report

Recently, Jamie and Jillian headed down to Orlando to attend an agent training program at Universal Orlando Resort.  After that finished, Tara joined Jamie at Disney for some Flower and Garden fun.  Join us as we talk about all the amazing things they learned, delicious food they tried, and fun things they did!

Happy listening!

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How to Allocate Park Days at Walt Disney World

Planning a vacation to Walt Disney World is very subjective because each family will have their favorites.  Family dynamics and ages are going to vary.  As travel planners we all get asked by our clients, how to allocate the number of park days over your vacation.  Granted having a Park Hopper ticket option will help you get to all the parks, but you have to factor in travel time from park to park and see if it is worth it to park hop.  A Park Hopper ticket option allows you to visit more than one park a day.  If you are short on time this might be a good options.  It is also a great option for couples and solo travelers.

Here is a breakdown of how I would use my days at Walt Disney World.

1 day ticket: (I know the horror!) but you will have to choose ahead of time if it will be at Magic Kingdom or Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom because the pricing is slightly different.  But this is a no-brainer for me: Magic Kingdom

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2 day ticket:  Magic Kingdom & Epcot.  Unless you have a person who is into Star Wars than I would suggest Hollywood Studios.  But with Magic Kingdom and Epcot having the most attractions these will give you the most bang for your buck.

3 day ticket: Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios.  Sure you may prefer to hit up Animal Kingdom but I feel that Hollywood Studios still has more to experience on a short trip.

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4 day ticket:  Visit each park one time for first time visitors.  If you have been before or aren’t interested in Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom I would suggest 2 days at Magic Kingdom, 1 at Epcot and then 1 and either Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom.

5 day tickets: With 5 days I would check out Magic Kingdom twice and all of the other parks once.  I believe this a fairly common arrangement for many people taking a 5 day vacation and it gives you plenty of time in Magic Kingdom plus a visit to each other park.

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6 day tickets: Magic Kingdom and Epcot twice with a single day spent at both Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.

7 day tickets: Here is where it gets tricky.  I would go with 3 days at Magic Kingdom (taking it easy), 2 at Epcot and again 1 at both Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom

8 day tickets: You could visit each park twice, or go to Magic Kingdom 3 times, Hollywood Studios and Epcot twice and Animal Kingdom once.

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9 day tickets: Magic Kingdom and Epcot 3 times each, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom get the rest so I would probably go with 2 Hollywood Studios days and 1 Animal Kingdom day.

10 day tickets: So many days to use up here!  Magic Kingdom, and Epcot 3 times each, then Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom twice.  What a fun vacation that would be!

You may find having the Park Hopper is also a great advantage especially with longer trips.  You may want to pop over to Animal Kingdom in the morning and then finish the evening with fireworks at Magic Kingdom.  And of course if the weather isn’t cooperating a Park Hopper is really handy.

Do take into consideration when planning your park days special events like hard ticket parties, events like a runDisney race.  Or if it is near a holiday or school break the parks can get very crowded so it is important to look ahead for what is going on at Walt Disney World before planning your park days.  And of course a great travel agent can help you with this!

Do you have a favorite combination of parks to visit on a vacation?  We would love to hear it!

Don’t Wait In Long Lines!

Continuing the theme of common questions we receive as a travel agents, one of the things people want to know most is how they can reduce the time they spend waiting in lines at Disney. It’s actually not that difficult! With a little bit of planning you can avoid those 60 minute plus wait times and breeze through the line. How? Here’s how!

1)Time of year One of the biggest factors in wait time is how big the crowd is expected to be in general. Disney has three designations for their ‘seasons’; value, regular and peak. These seasons correspond with crowd levels. For example, peak times would be the week of July 4th and the week of Christmas, when most people have time off of work and school. Value season is time when less people are expected to visit the parks: January, September, and parts of other months. The good news is that in addition to lower crowd times during value season, Disney usually offers extra incentives and discounts to stay during those times. It’s win-win!

2) Rope Drop Even visiting at one of the busiest times of year doesn’t mean you’ll be forced to wait in long lines your entire trip. Getting to the park as soon as it opens (called “rope drop”) can make all the difference. During the first hour or two of the park the wait times are usually very low and you can often accomplish much of your ‘to do’ list before others have even woken up at their resorts. Then you can relax and enjoy a nice breakfast while you watch the droves enter the parks, knowing all that you’ve already accomplished that morning. Sounds nice, doesn’t it!

3) FastPass Plus One of my favorite things about Disney is their new FastPass Plus system. Unlike other parks who charge for their line jumping services, Disney’s FastPass Plus is available to anyone who has purchased a park ticket. Guests staying on property are able to make three ride reservations at one park per day 60 days before their trip. Guests staying off property are able to make those reservations at 30 days prior to their trip. Guests purchasing their tickets the same day are still able to make those reservations, at kiosks in the park. The reservations are for a one hour window, leaving enough flexibility for an unexpected snack or bathroom break if needed!

4) Extra Magic Hours If you’re staying on property you’ll be able to take advantage of Disney’s Extra Magic Hours, where one park per day is open either an hour early or a few hours later for guests of Disney resorts only. The morning extra magic hours magnify the benefit of “rope drop”, because if people don’t like getting up early, they especially don’t like getting up even earlier! Extra magic hour mornings are one of the very lowest crowd times, even during busy times of year. If you’re more of a night owl, don’t lose hope! Even when the park is normally open until midnight sometimes the extra magic evening hours at Magic Kingdom can go until 3 am! As you can imagine, this is also a very low crowd time and you can even sometimes ride your favorites several times in a row with little or no wait. Keep in mind that crowd levels at a park with Extra Magic Hours are expected to be higher overall during the day, so you may want to plan on doing just the extra hours, not spending the day there!