LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- I admit, I'm not one for crowds or lines,
so visiting Walt Disney World during one of the busiest times of
the year was a bit scary, especially during the resort's heavily
promoted 25th Anniversary celebration.
But I was egged on by my kids, who could not imagine bypassing
Disney while in Florida, and we ventured into the Magic Kingdom for
a one-day visit on Dec. 26.
Much to our delight, and thanks to some tips from Walt Disney
World's guest relations department, we were able to see almost all
the attractions and do all the rides desired before collapsing,
satisfied, at the end of the evening.
All it took was a little planning and a little patience.
We arrived at the Magic Kingdom about 15 minutes after the 9
a.m. opening time and parked so easily we wondered if local stores
were attracting the crowds with post-Christmas sales.
But, as the shuttle approached the monorail, we saw the
Still, Disney efficiency did not let us down. We watched one
packed monorail depart but were able to make standing room on the
Including getting our tickets, taking a bathroom break, stopping
to buy film and walking time, we were at our first choice of ride,
Pirates of the Caribbean, by 10:30.
Luckily for us, the crowds seemed to be headed elsewhere. We did
the ride twice by 11:05.
After visiting the Pirates shop, we split into two groups. My
husband and 12-year-old daughter went to visit the Swiss Family
Treehouse while my 9-year-old son and I did
the Adventureland scavenger hunt.
We were starting to get hungry, so we caught an early lunch at
the cafeteria-style Pirata y el Perico; it was starting to get
crowded even though it still was before noon, but we snagged a
table without too much effort.
After lunch, we headed to adjacent Frontierland.
Discovering that the noon-time crowd at Splash Mountain meant a
wait of two hours, we passed it by and went on to Big Thunder
Mountain, where the wait was a more reasonable 45 minutes.
Again we split up, my husband and son doing the mountain and my
daughter and I enjoying a more quiet interlude with a raft ride to
Tom Sawyer Island (which I had never visited and found a pleasant
way to enjoy some downtime, without crowds).
At 1 p.m., the crowd at Splash Mountain thinned a bit, people
evidently taking a lunch break, so my husband, who considered the
ride a must, stood in line while I took the kids, who were less
inclined to take the plunge, back to Adventureland for the
Enchanted Tiki Birds show.
We reconvened at 2:30, in time to position ourselves to view the
parade at 3 p.m.
We never watched it before from Frontierland, where it begins,
and although the curb was overflowing with people, we found the
viewing great and also enjoyed sharing a smoked-turkey leg and
lemonade purchased nearby.
Since we were starting to tire, we decided to take the train
across the park to Mickey's Toontown Fair.
Refreshed from the short break, the guys tried the Barnstormer
at Goofy's Wiseacres Farm roller coaster while my daughter and I
checked out the souvenir stands.
We passed up meeting Mickey at his Country House because the
line was long.
Heading into Tomorrowland, we all enjoyed riding the race cars
at the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, although we had to wait
about a half-hour.
The kids wanted to repeat it, but the line had grown, and we
persuaded them otherwise.
By 4:15, we were starting to weaken but were not too tired to do
the attractions that drew the smallest crowds -- Take Flight and
Walt Disney's Car-ousel of Progress.
Thankfully, both involved more sitting than action.
My husband and the kids also decided to do the Timekeeper while
I took a much-needed coffee break.
By 6 p.m., I was exhausted, despite the coffee, and I alerted
the gang that we had made a dinner reservation for 8:15 at an Epcot
restaurant and needed to go there.
But the kids had not yet done the Haunted Mansion.
So we dashed over to Liberty Square, taking a few minutes to
view the impressive Disney holiday light displays and to get a
close-up look at the 25th Anniversary candy coating on Cinderella's
At the Haunted Mansion, the line was longer than we anticipated,
but we got through by shortly after 7 p.m.
Leaving the park was the first time we really were struck by the
Main Street was a sea of people, jam-packed with those arriving
And the shops were crowded.
Despite the lines at the rides, we had been unaware of the sheer
numbers of people, for the most part, until that point, caught up
instead in the Disney "magic."
We had managed to hit nearly all the high points we wanted --
except for the rides in Fantasyland.
And we all agreed you can do the Magic Kingdom in one day, even
at its most crowded, and still have a great and pleasantly