This one might be polarizing to some of you, so let’s establish some ground rules right from the start: I do not condone being rude or shoving past others, especially in line, and I also do not condone “cheating” in the form of disobeying cast members’ instructions. If ropes or tape have been applied to the walkways to form a path or cast members specifically instruct guests not to go through a certain area, these basic rules must be obeyed. Are we good? Excellent. Let’s talk speed.
It wasn’t until our third trip to Walt Disney World that we fully grasped the significance (and, at the time, the necessity) of moving quickly. (Since running is forbidden, let’s just assume I’m talking about Olympic-level speed walking.) If you’d like to read about our first experience with having to move incredibly quickly through the parks, which was also the subject of my first blog on ZADDCrew.com, you can do so here. After that mad dash across Epcot, it became apparent to us that speed was part of the Disney experience and that when people talk about “rope drop” what they’re actually saying most of the time is “the beginning of a race between you and thousands of other Disney guests to see who will get a few spots ahead in line on a beloved attraction.” More or less. Some people find hustling through the parks irritating, probably because they
were picked last in kickball twenty years ago and the sight of hundreds of people dashing past them in states of happiness and joy conjures up some bad memories. You often hear people grumbling things like, “the ride isn’t going anywhere,” or “you’re only going to be three spots ahead of me.” False. I will be approximately one hundred spots ahead of you, which will save me twenty minutes of my life. This will allow me to enjoy another attraction at some point over the course of the day. Or it will allow me to hang on for an extra twenty minutes on my deathbed and say some really weird and profound crap that will no doubt leave my relatives scratching their heads for years to come. Either way, that’s a win for me.
The point they’re missing is that such intensity isn’t about some misplaced sense of competitiveness and having to win or be first on a certain ride. It’s about maximizing every last second of the day. It’s about FastPass strategy. It’s about earning the extra time, later on, to waste standing in line for something that you really don’t want to stand in line for but your kids are desperate to do. I couldn’t care less about beating the people we’re passing on our way to Space Mountain, but I care
very much about the extra ten minutes I just added to our day in the Magic Kingdom. On our last trip to Disney, we darted towards Space Mountain at rope drop, and then rode Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, met Talking Mickey, rode Pirates of the Caribbean, and finished Big Thunder all within the Extra Magic Hour and without using any FastPasses. Had we leisurely strolled to Space Mountain, at least one of those attractions would not have been completed before the park opened to the public.
Moving quickly also helps you to hone your FastPass strategy. At Epcot, people typically dash to either Test Track or Frozen (with Soarin’ also in the mix), but only Test Track stacks up a substantial wait time within the first hour of the park opening. You could conceivably ride Frozen and Soarin’ twice each after the park opens, save the FastPass for Test Track, and ride it later at your convenience. (Frozen is also farther from the front of the park, which means a relatively quick pace will have a bigger impact on your line position than it will on Test Track. Yeah, I think about such things….) On our last trip, by the time Epcot had opened to the public, we had ridden nearly every attraction, so we spent the rest of the day casually strolling through the World Showcase. It was awesome. We were able to enjoy the different pavilions, browse the gift shops, take pictures, and have a delicious snack in France without feeling rushed. It made the day far more enjoyable. (The crowds in the World Showcase also build up much later than at the front of the park, so knocking out the big rides early has that added benefit as well.)
Of course, no discussion of park-opening quickness would be complete without mentioning Pandora. However, there are two parts to the Pandora speed strategy, and the first has nothing to do with lightning fast reflexes: you must be willing to wake up early. (I imagine this now applies to Toy Story Land as well.) We were up at 5am, on the first bus that pulled into our resort, and were one of the first fifty or so people at the gate to Animal Kingdom that morning. Though the CMs led the crowd so that you couldn’t outright run — which again, is against Disney rules — brisk walking still put us near the front of the group, and we made it onto Flight of Passage with almost no wait at all. Not only did we get to ride an amazing ride that we had never experienced, but we were also back out into the park less than twenty minutes after first reaching Flight of Passage. Rad Hallie and I were able to walk onto Expedition Everest with no wait, and then we met Rad Mom and Rad Ella at Dinosaur and rode that with no wait. Later that day when it rained (surprisingly, the only day it happened on our vacation), we wrapped up our visit and left the park feeling satisfied with what we had accomplished and leaving nothing on the table. With wait times for Flight of Passage averaging about two hours or more that day, it’s easy to see how
knocking out that attraction early paid off later in the afternoon. (If you’re wondering, our FastPasses were for Kilimanjaro Safaris, Kali River Rapids, and Na’vi River Journey.)
As you can see, moving quickly from park open or rope drop is a way to pack just a little bit more magic into your day in the parks. With a little strategy, you can use your speed to save yourself a FastPass to use elsewhere at a different time. But remember, while quickly navigating the parks can be a fun and even exhilarating way to accomplish as much as possible in a given day, it is never OK to be rude or make physical contact with other guests. I generally have an unspoken rule that I think serves us well as competitive Disney pros — but also kind, laid-back southerners: once you’ve entered the parks and are in the open, feel free to move as quickly as you like without bumping into other guests. (This includes power walk swerving around the slowpokes. I could offer an apology, but I’m not really sorry.) However, as you approach the attraction and the line begins to stack up, be mindful of your surroundings (young Jedi). This is where hustling gets a bad rap because people pass what they darn well know is the end of the line and attempt to squeeze in ahead of other guests. Not cool. Anyone and everyone can see where the line is forming, so don’t act all oblivious as if you couldn’t see dozens of people stretching single file. The mission ends where the line ends. Be respectful. (You don’t want to be like those people who let their kids sit on their shoulders during Happily Ever After, which is never OK. Ever. This is not up for debate.)
If you’ve never tried our admittedly intense approach, I encourage you to do so on your next trip to Disney. I imagine you’ll be able to pack in just a bit more fun using this jump start to your day. If you’re completely against using your speed to get ahead and disagree with me on every point, that’s unfortunate — for you — but I suppose Disney is for everyone, which includes people who’d rather not make the most of their days and instead stand in exorbitant lines letting time pass them by. Too bad they won’t have the chance to say anything interesting on their death beds.
Rad Dad, out.
Thanks to @zipadeedoocrew, @mickeys_photographer, and @magicalshannonmarie for the images. Be sure to follow them on Instagram!