Best Family Getaways
Copyright: The Walt Disney Corporation
Disney Done Right
A trip to the Magic Kingdom could be considered the birthright of every American kid. But not all Walt Disney World Resort vacations are created equal. Here, four tips for making the most of this childhood rite of passage.
Jump the Lines: Most attractions have a set number of tickets, or Disney’s FastPasses, that let you arrive within a particular hour and join a short queue instead of the seemingly endless regular line. But popular rides often distribute their entire allotments before 11 a.m. So start the day by collecting your group’s scanned admission tickets, leaving the kids on Main Street with an adult in your party, and racing to get FastPasses at your top two or three rides (our pick for ride not-to miss: Space Mountain). You can get a FastPass for every two-hour window, which means you can use up to five of them a day.
Go VIP: When Tom Cruise and daughter Suri visited Disney World last May, don’t think they waited in lines with the rest of us. The park offers Disney’s Premium VIP Tour Service (407/560-4033), which includes a guide to escort you from ride to ride—and anyone with a flush bank account can sign up. Populists might blanch at the idea of being driven around and paying around $315 an hour on top of admission fees. But if you’re in a big group with small kids, the Premium VIP Tour is a worthwhile option. Amortize it across a party of 10 for six hours, and it comes out to a much more reasonable $31.50 per person per hour.
Spend the Night: Perks for guests at Disney hotels include early park entry and free resort transportation. At the higher end, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge ($$$),lets you view wildlife from a safari jeep. For great value, Disney’s Pop Century Resort ($),has grounds dotted with four-story Rubik’s Cubes and yo-yos.
Go High-Tech: Over the next few months, stay tuned for major changes at Disney World. One of the highlights: a new website and mobile app called My Disney Experience (Android, iPad, iPhone; free) that will allow users to book space on rides, meal reservations, VIP seating for events, and character meet-and-greets—all before leaving home. Annual pass holders and guests at Disney World resorts also have access to MagicBands, bracelets that can serve as park tickets, room keys, and more. —Heidi Mitchell