Disney World's Best Attraction

I am currently sitting in Disney's best attraction, and it is almost empty: The lobby of the Grand Floridian Hotel, with their orchestra playing. Even if you don't stay here, find an excuse to stop here on the monorail one evening. great way to decompress from the running-with-the-bulls experience in the parks, and a better time machine than any of their rides.

  • IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States

    The biggest trick to Disney is not to be one of the Bulls. Realize that people are sheep. They stop at the first thing they see, then the next, and so forth. So don't.

    I haven't been to Disney in 20 years, now, so some things may have changed, but, for the most part:
    When you get there early in the morning, go PAST the crowds.

    You can, of course, do this on foot, and that's not necessarily a bad thing your first day there to "get the lay of the land", but after that, hop on the locomotive that circles the Magic Kingdom at Main Street, and get off somewhere well past the main crowds. The proceed either further around the park or towards the crowds, until you get to them.... THEN skip back past the crowd to start at Main Street and follow in their hoofprints///// sorry, "footsteps" at a respectable distance.

    Also, for the most part, realize that any crowds you encounter are likely very temporary and transitory. If you don't mind walking around more, if there's a long line at the Tiki Birds, skip past it and come back, likely that crowd will have moved on. There's only a couple of the "rides"/exhibits (The Country Bear Jamboree was the prime example of this) which is ALWAYS built up.

    Also realize that there are ways around the park which allow you to sit down and relax, taking a load off. The railroad, the riverboat, the steamboats, the peoplemover, and so forth. They used to have overhead cable cars which were great for seeing how the spaces were put together, but I seem to recall that was yanked some years back, and I don't see any reference to them on Magic Kingdom sites.

    A couple additional notes:
    a) This may be dated, but the best place to eat in the MK is probably the Crystal Palace, at the edge between Adventureland and Main Street.
    b) You can ride in the front of the monorails, "with the driver", if you ask. If someone beats you to it, you might have to wait, but not long. Sometimes they don't allow this for various reasons but it can't hurt to ask.
    c) An alternative to getting to the MK from the non-resort parking facility is the steam boats which go across the lagoon. It's a nice change of pace.
    d) This is particularly dated, as it's easily been about 30 years, but the restaurant at the Hawaiian Village was the best place to have dinner afterwards back before they opened the Grand Floridian and the other "newer" on-site hotels. Clearly, that may have changed.

    ===========

    Re: EPCOT -- same rules apply regarding skipping past the crowds. Go to the opposite diameter of the circle and come back along one arc, then skip past the crowd when you get to them...

    a) The crystal at the German place is mostly, if not completely, overpriced garbage. Anyone who knows good crystal can see it. That might or might not be obvious to someone who doesn't. It might also be no surprise at all to be told that.

    b) I think the Japanese place has the best restaurant of those I tried on my one visit to EPCOT (about 1/3rd of the place). A nice sit-down "cook it in front of you" type of Japanese grill house.

  • DMac

    It's been over 10 years since we were at Disney, with kids. We had lunch at the Grand Floridian, as a nice break from the park. When the kids were small, we stayed at the Polynesian, on the monorail, so we could leave the Magic Kingdom, and head back to the room for a nap. The parents needed one more than the kids. It made staying around for the closing fireworks less of a struggle. We also liked the restaurant in the Contemporary. The front of the monorail is a good ride, definitely ask for it.

  • marco73

    Just become friends with a Disney employee. My children went to school with several young people who now work in various capacities with Disney. It is a real blast to go through some of the back doorways, and pop out in front of a long line and right onto an attraction. I believe in a previous post that Warren may have mentioned being able to pay an employee to escort your group through the park. If you have the coin or the connections, by all means do so.
    Another hint - if you want to really experience the Rockin Rollercoaster (the Aerosmith ride), just ask if you can sit in the front car. You may have to wait a few turns, but if you are polite and patient, this can pay off as a real upgrade in the experience. Because of the design of the front car it is a little larger, and you get the full effect of the lights and the speed.
    If you think the Grand Floridian is amazing in May, just check it out at Christmas time. You may have to put up wih some crowds, but it is worth the effort.

  • Matt

    I Work for Disney's Engineering Services, and believe me the best attraction for anyone engineering minded is the "Behind the Scenes Tour". You'll get to tour the massive underground tunnel complex that is hidden under the Magic Kingdom, and see a few of the attractions in their pre-open/dry run states (Haunted mansion is a different animal with the lights on).

    The single most impressive thing about the company, the "magic" for me, is what happens in the park every morning between 6am and opening at the fantasy land expansion construction site. They transform a HUGE civil construction project back into a theme park.

    I hope you enjoy your stay in Florida, and thanks for writing this blog. I've been a reader for years.

  • DrTorch

    Currently visiting USIofA. I'll keep an eye out for you.

  • Sol

    That's funny, IGotBupkis, I always thought the way to get around the "people are sheep" problem at Disney World was to go to the park in the off season. I never had to worry about long lines at any of the rides the two times I went in November...

  • Orphan

    A simple trick: Depending on when you go, just wait for the afternoon rain. During the early part of the week, a lot of the people who have made week-long plans will leave. (Later in the week, when they've figured out that the rain won't last, this doesn't work as well.)

    It pays to pay attention to the weather forecast.

    Also, staying on Disney property means you can stay an hour or two later at the Magic Kingdom; for a few of the most popular rides, this can mean 5 minute wait times, compared to 1-4 hours. (Read: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Railroad.) It's generally more expensive to stay on their properties, but there are a few cheaper options if you don't mind a bus ride to get to the parks.

    If you're with a group of 10-12 people and are leaning towards something in the higher price range anyways, you might consider something like the Presidential Suites, which have high price tags, but have lots of space and some nice amenities (including access to some restaurants which aren't otherwise available, although they're pretty expensive themselves). There are also Disney houses for rent, which go from $400-800 a night, but sleep quite a few people and can be economical with a few people. (Particularly when you consider the potential cost savings of being able to prepare your own food.)

  • Matt

    Well, Coyote is working on a limited ride budget: Thunder mountain is down for a "refresh". With that down, what I've noticed from being there for park opening every weekday is that tomorrow land gets overrun. Without Thunder mountain to split people fairly evenly to either side of the park, most guests are making a bee-line to space mountain.

    Now, fantasy land actually opens about 20 minutes after the rest of the park (it's roped off even after guests get in), but I would absolutely start the day in fantasy land (especially if you have younger children).

    Peter Pan is legendary for hitting 120 minutes wait time, longer than the average for either thunder or space (which usually top out around 90 minutes on the average day). Get there right off the bat and you can walk on.

    Also, the original Snow White ride's days are numbered. It will be going offline after the new Snow White Dwarves' Mine opens up, so I would make sure to get on that so you can say you rode it. It's actually the one ride that scare little kids more than anything else in the park (it gets more crying children than the haunted mansion thunder or space mountain, though this is certainly because parents are caught off guard by the dark atmosphere and scary witch and let on toddlers).

    Dumbo has been moved, and currently you can see the second dumbo ride being built right next to the first. Unfortunately, the air conditioned waiting area will not be open until later this summer.

    I'll echo previous posters and say that if you are willing to be in the park around close you can simply walk onto any ride repeatedly. Use your fast passes, ALWAYS have a set of those out. They save a lot of time if you use them intelligently.

    If you are going to be in EPCOT, my advice is to immediately go to the land pavilion and either ride Soarin or get a fast pass for it. OR BOTH! This is simply a home run for Disney, which was originally built for their California Adventure park. It's a large auditorium of seats which fold/stack up and then operate as a motion ride. From an engineering standpoint, it's a major highpoint (I wish they would leave the lights on while the seats fold into their "ride" configuration).

  • Another guy named Dan

    Further trick: The Cafe at the Grand Floridian accepts guests in "theme park attire", serves out of the same kitchen as the signature restraunts, and if you're on the meal plan (and why aren't you?) costs only one full-service credit, effectively half the price as the others in the hotel. It's better food than anything in the Magic Kingdom, and about 10 minutes from Main Street USA via Monorail or launch. The slight draubask is that it's a pretty short menu, but I assure you that you will be happy with what you get.

    Go a little early, listen to the orchestra in the lobby, and have a great meal while decompressing from the theme park over-stimulation.