Life in the speed-pass lane
Okay, so you’ve decided to conquer Space Mountain in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World Orlando – you’ve got the time and cash.
You get to the park gate before it opens to get a good parking spot and get your tickets. But the parking lot is already full; so much for getting the most out of the ten bucks you just forked-over for parking. Not to mention the fact you just missed the courtesy tram while grabbing your backpack from the car and are hot-stepping it to the park because you’re not going to wait for the next one.
Just as you get closer to the gate, the next tram you didn’t wait for passes you and dozens of passengers are pouring out, only adding to the long line ahead of you at the ticket booth; plus there’s also a line in the bag-check lane you didn’t even know existed until you got to the park.
No matter, you think as soon as you get in the park, you’ll get those sweet speed-passes and see the park in record time.
But when you get to the first attraction to snatch a speed-pass, you see a long line and have to wait in it. The same holds true for every other speed-pass machine.
What’s this? You’re hungry for lunch already? You look at your watch and sure enough, it’s lunch time. Oh well, you figure that you’ll grab a quick bite and put those hard-earned speed passes to work.
You consult your park map and see there’s a pizza place just around-the-corner. Hurriedly, you make your way over to find yet another line – complete with screaming kids and lollygagging adults. After waiting what seems like an eternity, you cart your tray around the dining area, circling and searching for an empty table. But none are to be found, so you resort to hovering over one with a family that’s finishing their lunch.
To your surprise, they don’t get up and leave once they’re done – instead they stay and chat, pointing to places on the map, planning the rest of their day and no amount of impatient foot-tapping gives them the hint. So you begrudgingly resume your empty table search.
The overpriced lunch you just scarfed-down took way too much time and some of those stupid speed-passes are useless because you’ve missed the return time. Though you still have a couple of good ones left, those attractions are clear over on the other side of the park and the clock is ticking.
You manage to get a few of the attractions in you got to the park so early to see. But the daylight is fading and it’s time for dinner. It’s déjà vu all-over-again when you walk into the restaurant – there’s a long line at the counter, no empty tables and more screaming kids, accompanied by at-wits-end parents. So once again, you wait in a long line and hunt for a table while your food gets colder and colder.
After dinner you grab one of those mouse shaped ice cream bars and figure what-the-heck and visit another attraction or two. It’s getting late and the night parade is in less than a half hour. Thankfully you’re not far away, but getting close to the parade route seems impossible. Quickly, you realize all the good spots are taken but at least you’re close to the castle.
The parade comes-and-goes but you certainly didn’t see much of it. The park is closing and before you leave, you have to make good on that promise to buy your niece a souvenir. Its par-for-the-course when you realize all of the souvenir shops are absolutely packed and of course there is a long line at every register.
Man-oh-man, what a day! At least you learned some valuable lessons for your next visit because the time you spent pushing over elderly couples and jumping stroller carts to get from one speed-pass dispenser to the next could have been used to actually see that attraction.
* Purchase your tickets on-line.
* Try to not take bags with you into the park.
* Stay at a value resort and take the bus to avoid the parking charge.
* Map out which attractions you want to see and go in a circle. Theme parks are essentially circular, so you should go with the flow.
* For any shows/parades, get there at least 40 minutes early. For any finale shows or parades get a spot an hour before show time.
* Since you’re going to eat in the park (outside food and coolers are generally prohibited), get your food and take it with you to eat while you wait for the next show to begin – it may be a little inconvenient, but it will help pass the time and save time looking for a table.
* Visit the gift shops when the park opens, during lunch or during dinner.
The Magic Kingdom can be fun if you know what to expect but you need be prepared…and oh yeah, the Magic Kingdom doesn’t sell beer to ease your pain if you aren’t.
By Owen Edward