(DISCLAIMER: The following was originally written by Jerry Skids back in 2009. He is a big Disney fan. He has his own WDW-themed podcast, which you can find here, or here. This is 100% Jerry’s words, completely unedited, out of respect to Jerry. I have not fact-checked any of this information. Obviously the prices have definitely changed since 2009 , and should be used for comparative purposes only, not as actual real-time price quotes. And many attractions have come and gone since the time this was written. However, that does not invalidate his suggestions one iota. This is still useful, and I think this is so amazing, that I want to share his knowledge and wisdom. Thank you Jerry! Posted with his permission. – Editor)
WDW For The Single Guy: an experiment
A Brief Introduction
Welcome to Walt Disney World! All together, WDW comprises 43 square miles! That’s two times the size of Manhattan, or roughly the size of Boston. Within the confines of this vast are four theme parks: (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom), two water parks: (Blizzard Beach, and Typhoon Lagoon), 34 hotels (see later), two nighttime-entertainment areas (Downtown Disney, and The Boardwalk), five golf courses, campground, over 100 restaurants, four interconnected lakes, a sports complex, three convention venues, a nature preserve, and a transportation system consisting of four-lane highways, elevated monorails, and a network of canals. PHEW!
They have 60,000 employees – well they had 60,000 employees … also known as “cast members.” That makes them the largest single-site employer in the United States!
If this were a real book, I’d go into more, but instead, I’ll go right ahead and start talking about the best times to go – so, here we go!
The Best Times (And Worst Times) To Go To WDW
Let’s start with the best times… The least crowded dates (also known as off-season) are January 4th – the 1st week of February (since the kids are all going back to school – college and under), and with the same respect, September (after Labor Day) – October. It’s also pretty slow right after Thanksgiving until the week before Christmas – although WATCH OUT FOR POP WARNER!!! Also, the 2nd full week in November – the weekend preceding Thanksgiving is good. The week after Easter – early June is pretty decent. Finally late February, March, and fully April are just OK.
The busiest weeks are of course Christmas Day – New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, weekend, President’s Week, Spring Break for colleges, Easter break, and of course, ALL FREAKIN’ SUMMER LONG!
Going at off-peak times will be more relaxing and less stressful, plus you won’t have all those families cramping your style. Most singles hang out there during the slow times and Cast Members have less and less to do. Oh! And also, because September is hurricane season, they give FREE DINING almost every year during that time. Plus, late September, early October is the Food and Wine Festival … You know what? I’ll just tell you now. The WDW Marathon is the 2nd week in January, the Pirate and Princess Party starts in January and goes till the summer, (check the listings), Atlanta Braves Spring Training is from mid-Feb – March, the Flower & Garden Festival is in April – June, Gay Days is in June, the Food and Wine I already told you, and of course, there are many holiday celebrations. I’ll explain that when it comes up.
Tickets And Stuff
Magic Your Way Tickets seem confusing, but they are not. They give you a choice of a base ticket (admit 1 guest to 1 theme park each day of use) or a park hopper (1 guest to as many parks as they want for each day of use.) It operates on an easy and helpful system. The more days you go, the cheaper the ticket is. As of 2009, I believe a 1-day base ticket is $76 (about) … a 10 day base ticket is $240 (about) – LESS THAN 4 DAYS ON A SINGLE DAY PASS! For a Park-Hopper (recommended), you pay a flat fee of $47.93 no matter how many days you are going for. If you are going for 10 days, that’s less than $5 a day. Then you can add water parks for $53.25, which I find pointless (unless you plan to go to a water park at least 5 times during your trip) and you could out a “no expiration” on your tickets for a pretty big (and pointless) sum of money. Otherwise, your ticket will die after 14 days from the 1st day of use.
The last choice is to get an annual pass for a flat fee of $477 a year. This seems like a lot, but you get a big discount on hotels, you get free valet parking at all parks and resorts (normally it’s like $11 a day for parking), and 10% discounts on all restaurants. If you’re going for 12 days or more, sprig for the annual pass and you won’t regret it.
Let’s put it this way … you have two choices. Stay on-property, or off-property. Yes, the hotels are cheaper off-property, but let me tell you what you get when you stay on-property… You’ll love this:
- You can use the Disney Transportation System! Buses, monorails, ferries, oh my! All free. Sure you can rent a car, but sometimes you just want someone else to drive you!
- Extra Magic Hours: If you are a resort guest at a WDW Resort you get into certain parks an hour earlier than everyone else, and stay 3 hours later! Each park has their own day to have morning or evening extra magic hours. I’ll discuss later.
- Magical Express: Disney will greet you at the airport, pickup your baggage, pick you up, bring you to your resort, and drop your bags off within a few hours. This way you don’t have to worry about those pesky baggage claim lines!
- When attendance gets heavy, sometimes they close the park. All resort guests will be let in no matter what. You have priority!
- Guess what? Ya like golf? Good! You get preferential treatment for tee times.
- Free parking – Save your $11 a day. (Not to be confused w/ the Annual Pass Free Valet) In addition, staying on-property is closer, easier to navigate if you are splitting up w/ your friends, double dates, or one night stands, and most importantly you get that true WDW feel! 🙂
Bad news though: WDW Resorts vary in price depending on if it’s “value”, “regular”, “peak”, or “holiday” season. Check the calendar online for prices.
(To be continued…)