Keeping the magic Planning to see Disney’s nighttime parade? Take a break during the day.
travel & recreation
no matter where they’re located in the park.
In other words, go to Tomorrowland and ride
Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear and then
go all the way over to the other side of the
park to ride Splash Mountain. Then come
back to Fantasyland and ride Peter Pan. All
four of those, even a half hour later, are going
to be mobbed.”
Gruman strongly recommends bringing
or renting a stroller for kids up to age 6.
“The last thing you want is a tired, hot,
cranky child who says, ‘I’m not walking anymore; carry me,’ ” says the Costco member.
Planning ahead In terms of the worst time to go, says Sehlinger, “You absolutely don’t want to be down there over a Fourth of July weekend.” Instead, head to Disney right after school fin- ishes, or the week before school starts up again. “Sometimes the hotel rates are less expensive at those times.” Visit the official Disney Web site at
www.disney.go.com before leaving home and pick the attractions you want to see. Crowd condi- tions depend on a ride’s popularity and carry- ing capacity. If you don’t want to wander aimlessly, follow the step-by-step itineraries at Sehlinger’s Web site, TouringPlans.com. He and his team developed them by analyzing traffic flow at Disney and creating a mathe- matical model to calculate the best order in which to see the attractions.
By Wendy Helfenbaum IDEALLY, FAMILIES should be able to go to a Disney theme park when crowds are thin and prices are rock bottom. However, most people’s vacations fall over the summer or during spring break, exactly the times when Disney parks are at peak capacity. Saving time and money is critical when your kids are desperate to ride Space Mountain or eat breakfast with Mickey. Fortunately, several unofficial Disney gurus have found surefire strategies to help travelers enjoy the best vacation possible. When it comes to experiencing Disney, Bob Sehlinger believes you need either a good plan or a frontal lobotomy. Sehlinger has made 400 visits to Disney parks over the past 20 years, and the author of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (Wiley, 2009) and his team have figured out how to save up to four hours of waiting time per day by visiting attractions in a specific order. Sehlinger wrote the book following a disastrous family trip to Disney World in the arly 1980s. “We didn’t have a plan, we paid a bucketful of money and we stood in lines all day. I was horrified,” he recalls. Montreal, Quebec, resident Patti Gruman learned this the hard way after her family’s first trip to Disney World. “We were winging it, and realized very quickly that you need a strategy,” she recalls.
Insider tips for traveling to
Disney theme parks
Tips from the money-saving maven
Costco member Mary Waring turned a
passion for finding Disney deals into a new
business. The founder of MouseSavers.com
found discounts posted on dozens of discussion boards, so she compiled them on her
Web site. When her brother forwarded the
site to co-workers, she got more than 23,000
hits in six weeks. Today, her site—which is
jam-packed with insider discount codes and
coupons—gets several million hits each
month. If there’s a way to save money, she
knows about it.
“Become your own advocate and do
some research,” says Waring. “Frequently,
you’ll save money by buying your tickets sep-
arately from your hotel.”
Waring also suggests bringing along a
suitcase of cereal, snacks, juice and water. If
your hotel room has a fridge, stock it with
sandwich supplies and have a picnic lunch
instead of lining up for expensive meals. If
you eat on-site, consider sharing meals; por-
tions are huge at Disney parks.
Disney provides plenty of what Waring
calls “shopportunities.” Most rides end up in a
gift shop, but Gruman notes, “You don’t have
to lose your shirt. We gave our children $10
per day to spend on souvenirs; it taught them
Ready, set, ride!
Arrive at the park at least 45 minutes
before it opens, advises Sehlinger. “The only
way to beat the crowds is to be one of the first
ones through the turnstile. Know what the
bottleneck attractions are and hit them first,
Take a breather
Although tearing your children away
from Fantasyland may seem daunting,
Sehlinger and Waring advise leaving the parks
after lunch to escape the hottest, most crowded
time of the day. “Splash around the hotel pool,
take a nap and go back in the late afternoon,”
suggests Waring. “You can literally stand at the
exit at 4 o’clock and watch children who didn’t
have a rest coming out in full meltdown mode.
It’s just screaming mayhem.”
Above all, says Sehlinger, “Don’t get
hung up on how many rides you fit in. Stop
from time to time and ask, ‘What would
make us happiest right now?’ and just follow
that instinct.” C
The Costco Connection
Members can find Disney vacation packages
through Costco Travel and discount tickets
MAY 2010 ;e Costco Connection 55
Wendy Helfenbaum is a Montreal writer and
television producer at Take Two Productions,