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We'll be arriving in Orlando on the 28th of this month and not leaving until July 6th. We have purchased a 5-day park-hopper pass. My mom has never been to Disney World before and I have only been with a one-day park-hopper pass two years ago when I rushed around with an AP holder and somehow was able to get a ride on every major coaster and thrill ride I was interested in (ToT, Rockin' Rollercoaster, Everest, Space Mountain, etc.). So this will be more of a relax with my mom trip than a rush around and get credits trip.

 

First of all, I'd like to know how the fast pass system works for the parks and how I can reserve some rides for us.

 

Second, which order do you think we should do the parks, or which parks should we reserve for weekdays vs. the weekend? And which park or parks do you think would be best to be on July 4th?

 

Also, what places are best to eat in the parks, and of course, Epcot? We can afford a few moderately priced dinners or maybe one or two big "splurge" dinners and then opt for cheaper options (or even bringing our own food) after that.

 

Any other recommendation or advice would be appreciated! I have just a little bit of knowledge about the parks from my one short visit but I know there is so much more that I missed. I also really would like to do Pandora but I'm nervous about the waits in that area.

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Unfortunately, we are in the middle of a big trip ourselves so I just don't have the time to respond to this properly. That being said, you are going to be visiting during one of the top three busiest times of the year. I would start making FP+ reservations on the app NOW otherwise you may find yourselves not having any for this insanely busy time period.

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First of all, I'd like to know how the fast pass system works for the parks and how I can reserve some rides for us.

 

With FastPass+, FPs can be reserved 2 months in advance by those staying at WDW resort hotels (I thought it was 1 month in advance for non-resort hotel guests, but I can't find that anywhere...) You can choose 3 if you're booking in advance. It is possible to get day-of reservations, but they seem to be pretty limited. Not sure how current this guide is, but Screamscape posted a guide to FP+ a while back that is pretty descriptive: http://screamscape.com/html/walt_disney_world_resort.htm#WDW-Fastpass

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Outside of the parks, of course you have the water parks and Disney Springs. Something to keep in mind too is that the resorts themselves are attractions that are worth visiting if you have the time. Some stand outs are the Magic Kingdom area resorts (Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge) where you have great restaurants, gorgeous beaches to walk on, and some amazing places to watch the fireworks (although you'll likely want to watch the fireworks from the park since it's going to be your first opportunity to see the show). The Polynesian and Grand Floridian are connected by a walkway along a beach. Exploring just those two is a relaxing way to take a break from the parks whilst still immersed in the magic.

 

Another great resort area to explore is the Boardwalk/Yacht and Beach Club area. There's a great area of shops and restaurants here that you can access from an exit at the back of World Showcase at Epcot. This area is also connected to Hollywood Studios by boat and by a walkway however the walk will probably a bit long to do in the middle of summer.

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Go to either Hollywood Studios or Epcot on the 4th because they both have less newer things and are not called Magic Kingdom. Crowds will still be bad but not as bad. As for fast passes, get them now and as many for major rides you can before they are gone.

For Animal Kingdom get anything in Pandora if available, Everest, or Dinosaur

For Hollywood Studios get Toy Story, Rock n Roller Coaster or Tower of Terror

For Epcot obviously Soarin', Test Track or Frozen

For Magic Kingdom get Seven Dwarfs, Space Mountain, BIg Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain

 

Most of those rides are either already popular or have lower capacities per hour. Most other rides are designed to handle lots of people at once so you wont have to really use fast passes for them unless there's nothing else available. As for meals try the Whispering Canyon in the Wilderness Lodge, the servers are hilarious and the foods not bad. Also Raglan Road is great in Disney Springs, the authentic Irish atmosphere is great and they periodically have dancers and live Irish Bands.

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If you are going for fireworks on the 4th, they also do the same fireworks show on the 3rd. So if you want to avoid crowds and still see the fireworks show they do on the 4th, go on the 3rd and have a non-park related day on the 4th, because the parks will be so insanely crowded that it is almost a waste of your park ticket.

 

Also, seeing the fireworks from the Polynesian Resort is an AWESOME view for the 4th of July Fireworks! Just park at TTC and walk to the Poly and watch them from the beach. You need to get there about an hour early because there will be a LOT of people doing this.

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I seem to always recommend EPCOT for days when you know it's going to be crowded. The park is huge so it never feels as crowded as Magic Kingdom and it's pretty easy to just kinda hang out and have a great day. See a few shows, eat, get a fastpass for Soarin and use single rider line for Test Track, eat some more. Seems like I remember they do a July 4th finale add on to Illuminations to which is cool.

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Just made it to my hotel by a certain North Carolinan park on my way down south. Thank you all for the responses!

If you are going for fireworks on the 4th, they also do the same fireworks show on the 3rd. So if you want to avoid crowds and still see the fireworks show they do on the 4th, go on the 3rd and have a non-park related day on the 4th, because the parks will be so insanely crowded that it is almost a waste of your park ticket.

 

Also, seeing the fireworks from the Polynesian Resort is an AWESOME view for the 4th of July Fireworks! Just park at TTC and walk to the Poly and watch them from the beach. You need to get there about an hour early because there will be a LOT of people doing this.

Thank you so much for the advice! I really appreciate it given that you guys are busy with your own trip. I really like the idea of watching the fireworks from the Polynesian Resort beach. I also didn't know they did the same fireworks show on the 3rd. It sounds like we should skip Disney on the 4th for one of our non-WDW days.

which park or parks do you think would be best to be on July 4th?

 

tenor.gif

 

That is a possibility for us.

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If you are going for fireworks on the 4th, they also do the same fireworks show on the 3rd. So if you want to avoid crowds and still see the fireworks show they do on the 4th, go on the 3rd and have a non-park related day on the 4th, because the parks will be so insanely crowded that it is almost a waste of your park ticket.

 

Also, seeing the fireworks from the Polynesian Resort is an AWESOME view for the 4th of July Fireworks! Just park at TTC and walk to the Poly and watch them from the beach. You need to get there about an hour early because there will be a LOT of people doing this.

 

This would also allow you some time to get Dole Whip from Pineapple Lanai or the alcoholic Dole Whip drink from Trade Sam's. Get Dole Whip!

 

One of the less pleasurable things about going to WDW and planning on short notice with lack of experience means you will need to apply patience in waiting, especially during peak periods. This includes Advanced Dining Reservations. I recommend looking through the Walt Disney website to read actual menus and look around for reviews to suit your tastes. Absent that, Biergarten in Germany at Epcot is good food, not too expensive for WDW, and not too difficult to get an ADR. It's a buffet featuring German food. Whispering Canyon and Ohana always review well in the resorts. I liked the Skipper Canteen in the Magic Kingdom when they had a very different menu near the opening; no idea what it's like now. Liberty Tree Tavern in MK is also a winner for family style. In all honesty, there are so many restaurants there that serve so many different foods in so many different ways, you're best off going through the My Disney Experience app, poring over the selections, and reserving what you like when you can for table service.

 

For the parks, I would avoid parks with morning extra magic hours if you are not an onsite guest. Thousands of people will be in queues already, no matter how early you show up for the general crowd. Compare and contrast park hours and nighttime show offerings. One move that usually works out pretty well is showing up to Magic Kingdom about 30 minutes before the last nighttime show if the park is closing later. Get around the crowd that is watching the show, go ride on the rides. You might not be able to avoid a 60 minute 7DMT line, but at least it is dark outside. Other rides like POTC and Buzz Lightyear can be nigh walk ons, and Astro Orbiter is a more valuable experience at night, imo.

 

The FP+ system is handled through the My Disney Experience/MyMagic+/Walt Disney World mobile and web app. It's too complex to walk you through it verbally here, but simple enough that you can read on the site, follow the prompts and be aware of your options, and put together an FP+ plan that can work into a larger plan with ADRs and park times.

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