This past weekend, I traveled to Orlando for a mini-Disney vacation. I generally try to do these little marathon sessions once a year. The challenge? 4 Parks in 2 1/2 days. At this point I’ve got it down to a science, and, really, I should try to patent it. It’s fool-proof. If anyone is looking for advice on how to optimize your Disney trip with little time, let me know. Just be prepared to be EXHAUSTED. Warning: This Itinerary is NOT for kids.
I love going to Disney at this time of year. The Halloween decorations are fun and festive, but mostly importantly, the Epcot Food and Wine festival is taking place. This has become a sort of tradition for me, and well worth checking out if you’ve never been. We’ll get to that in the next blog though.
This year’s weary traveler’s:
Myself – Disney-phile, ex-Amusement Park worker, Camp Counselor aka Slave Driver
Donald – Returnee for the Rick B tour, glutton for punishment, Instagram-er Extraordinaire
Barb – Mother, Returnee, Seriously needed a getaway
Natalie – Cousin, newbie, no clue what she was getting herself into
Day 1 – Friday, Oct 4th: Hilton Pool and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
One debate I always have is whether to stay on Disney Property or a nearby Hotel. There is truly no rhyme or reason to how I decide, it ultimately comes down to cost. My advice is to look on Kayak or Hotels.com to weigh your options. I have found amazing rates at Disney Hotels (i.e. $150 a night for the Animal Kingdom Lodger – normally $400). This trip, there was no such deals to be had. We opted to stay at the Hilton by Downtown Disney for $100 a night. With parking and the resort fee, it would end up being about $140 a night. For a little bit more, we could have stayed at a Moderate Disney Hotel, but the Hilton offered Extra Magic Hours and had better sheets in towels in my opinion. We chose to drive on our own, but they do have shuttles to the parks.
In a rare move, I let everyone sleep in and enjoy some pool time at the Hilton. Donald and I opted not to go to one of the Water Parks. We lounged and drank by the pool and grabbed lunch at the Earl of Sandwich at Downtown Disney, a surprisingly cheap option.
How can you accomplish Disney World in 2 1/2 days? Doesn’t a half day waste a ticket? The answer is simple. Use the Party schedule. In this case, we decided to attend “Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party”. At $62, you get 8 hours in the Magic Kingdom where they limit attendance and provide a special Fireworks show and Parade…not to mention Trick Or Treating. Technically the party runs from 7-Midnight, but they let you in 4 hours early before kicking the rest of the general attendees out.
During the Halloween Party, Fast Passes are not available, but you are still able to get them before the park “closes” at 7. Normally I’m a clockwise park goer, but keeping the Fast Pass rule in mind, we went counter-clockwise and got one for Space Mountain. Return time was 45 mins, so we opted to ride Carousel of Progress and Buzz Light Year. I have a separate post planned for ride comparisons between Disney World and Disneyland, but let’s just say that Space Mountain and FL just pales in comparison to Space Mountain CA. After a quick dinner, we headed to Splash Mountain before the sun went down and proceeded to get more wet then we intended.
Here’s a tally of everything we were able to do during the Halloween Party. Proof that you can conquer the Magic Kingdom in 8 hours:
Space Mountain…Buzz Lighter Year’s Space Ranger Spin…The Carrousel of Progress…”It’s a Small World”…Splash Mountain….Pirates of the Caribbean…The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh….Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
The real stars of the show were Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade (including a special appearance by the Headless Horseman) and the Happy HalloWishes fireworks display. Both are unique only to the Halloween Party.
There were also stops at multiple Trick or Treat places for Candy. We probably could have done a lot more, but chose to leave the park at 10:30 to avoid the mass exodus at Midnight.
Up Next: Animal Kingdom and Epcot Food and Wine