About a month ago, I got an email from Disney, linking to an article - "Insider's Secrets to Exploring Disney Parks" - I'm sure many people think "wow - this is from Disney - it MUST be good advice!
To make a long story short, it isn't. Sure, there are some common sense suggestions like "bring sunscreen and wear comfy sneakers", but many of their pieces of advice will ensure you have a WORSE time! The amount of what I call BDTs ("Bad Disney Tips") is astonishing! Let's look at five of these BDTs from this single article!
Bad Disney Tip #1: "Arrive late afternoon on weekends for the best chance of avoiding super long lines and mid-day peak heat."
This is astonishingly bad advice. While the early afternoon is the busiest time of the day, the late afternoon is frankly almost as bad! If you head to Toy Story Midway Mania in the late afternoon, you're going to be waiting 90 minutes or more. If you head to Splash Mountain, you could be waiting 45 minutes to an hour. Rides are near their peak wait times in the afternoon!
As for the "weekends" part of the tip - for Disney World, there is very little difference in crowd sizes based on weekends versus weekdays (since most people are vacationing out-of-towners). For Disneyland, especially during the school year, the weekends are more busy!
Frankly, this is possibly the worst piece of Disney advice I've ever seen.
Bad Disney Tip #2: "Guests of select Walt Disney World Resort hotels receive the Extra Magic Hours before or after regular Park hours on certain attractions"
I think this "tip" is implying that Extra Magic Hours are a good time to visit the parks. The fact of the matter is the morning Extra Magic Hours are sometimes a good time to visit three of the four parks. However, you need to know what you're giving up - you generally see larger crowds the rest of the day at an Extra Magic Hours park. That can offset any advantage you get from your extra hours, and then some. In addition, you're giving up an hour of sleep (which, especially if you stayed up for fireworks the night before, can be a challenge).
At Optimal Magic, sometimes we do put together plans that include Extra Magic Hours, and sometimes we do not. The optimal strategy and the optimal park depends on many factors, and frankly, vary from family to family. To basically imply that "Extra Magic Hours are great" like this article does is bad advice, and can lead to more lines, more crowds, more waiting, and more stress...
Bad Disney Tip #3: "October's a great time to visit the Walt Disney World Resort"
Actually, this tip is true - October generally has lighter crowds than most times of the year. However, this is because kids are in school! That means there's a very good chance you can't go in October!
I wouldn't categorize this as a "bad" tip per se - it's just not useful for most people. To quote Nicholas Cage in my favorite stupid movie "Honeymoon in Vegas" - "that just doesn't help me at all, but I appreciate the thought!"
Bad Disney Tip #4: "Shhh... Fantasyland attractions might be less crowded during the afternoon parade"
Ah yes - the old "go on rides during the parade" nugget. I hate this tip. Are the lines shorter during the parade? The short answer is no. Maybe marginally, but that means a 40 minute wait for Peter Pan instead of a 45 minute wait! It also means you miss the parade!
The fact of the matter is during the afternoon parade, you should either be at the parade (if you want to see it), or you should be far, far away from Fantasyland (because it's the busiest time of day there, and it's filled with cranky kids and crankier adults - not very magical!) An Optimal Magic plan will ensure you see everything you want at Fantasyland (if that's what you're interested in) without any long waits!
Bad Disney Tip #5: "Use FASTPASS tickets only on rides with a 20-minute plus minute line, then wait for those with shorter lines"
Okay, for someone who is completely clueless, this isn't a bad tip. But at Optimal Magic, we do so much better! I would never advise a client to get in a 20 minute line! It would never happen! Why wait 20 minutes if you can ride the same attraction with no wait?
So what are the good Disney tips?
There are some good tips out there. But they are surrounded by bad advice, and it can be very hard to recognize what is good and what is bad.
This is where Optimal Magic comes in. I know exactly what works. And I've tested it myself! Optimal Magic has three goals for each of our clients:
- Ensuring you do everything you want to do (and skip the stuff you don't want to do), in the most optimal, best way possible
- Never waiting in a long line (and I consider 10 minutes to be a long line! 0 minutes is what I consider "optimal")
- Having your vacation tailored exactly to what best fits you
If a piece of advice doesn't advance one of those three goals, it's not a good piece of advice and I don't include it. If it does help with one of the goals, you can rest assured it is included in an Optimal Magic plan!
Have you seen bad Disney advice out there? If so, leave a note in the comments! Or feel free ask me about a piece of advice you've seen if you're unsure about it!