Ten by Ten -- a Park Strategy

by Alice McNutt Miller
AllEars® Guest Columnist

Feature Article

This article appeared in the December 8, 2009 Issue #533 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

AliceMy husband (Rob) was having a conversation with a colleague (let's call him "Fred") this summer about a disappointing visit he (Fred) had recently had at a local amusement park. The conversation went something like this:

Fred: "How can you spend as much time at Disney World as you do? I just took the family to (fill in name of local amusement park), and it was awful!"

Rob: "Really? Why is that?"

Fred: "The lines were so long, we only did about five rides the whole day. What a bust!"

Rob:  "Wow.  We regularly do Ten by Ten at Disney World."

Fred: "Ten by ten?"

Rob:  "Yep.  Ten rides by 10 o'clock."

Ten by Ten. Yes, we have done it, and yes, it can be done. But there are caveats. In order to do this properly, it is best to be at the Magic Kingdom. On a morning with Extra Magic Hours (EMH). (Of course another caveat is that you have to be staying at a Disney property in order to take advantage of EMH.) Or at Disneyland. On just about any morning. I know, I know, there are starting to be too many caveats, but bear with me -- the basic strategies outlined below can be used at just about any time. Let's stick with Disney World and the Magic Kingdom on an EMH day as our example. Here are the crucial steps to doing Ten by Ten:

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Keep in mind that the author's strategy, outlined below, is purely based on her own experience, and works for her family. It is not derived by any scientific means. You mileage, as they say, may vary!)

  • Set a wake-up call with Stitch, and get all of your sleepyheads out of bed.  Sleeping in is for a different vacation!

  • Feed everyone a quick breakfast with supplies that you have cunningly procured in advance, and already have in your hotel room.

  • Coffee (preferably strong) for the grown-ups.

  • Get to the resort bus stop 45 minutes to one hour before the EMH opening time of 8 a.m. (really!). DO NOT drive your own car to the Transportation and Ticket Center. With the extra transportation involved to get to the Magic Kingdom (monorail, boat) this option just takes too long.

  • Pass through the security checkpoint. (OK, why am I always the one who is stuck with the bag with the camera and the sunscreen, who has to wait in line for the bag to be searched? Someday I want to be a "Guest Without Bag" and skip all of that like the rest of my family does.)

  • Distribute tickets to each member of your party.

  • Pass through gates at entrance to Magic Kingdom.

  • Retrieve tickets from each member of your party (VERY important!).
  • Wait patiently for the 15 to 20 minutes remaining until the park opens.

  • Apply sunscreen.
  • Sing "Good Mornin' " with the Cast Members.  With enthusiasm, please.

  • Join in the countdown. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ...

  • At the rope drop walk -- do not run -- straight down Main Street (actually, we have found we make the best progress if we stay slightly to the left-hand side) toward Fantasyland. Do not stop for a PhotoPass opportunity. Do not stop at the Main Street Bakery (there will be time for that later, and you have already fueled up in your hotel room).  Do wave back at the nice cast members with the big white Mickey hands.

  • Walk through the Cinderella Castle, and admire the lovely mosaics as you pass through.  Don't stop!

  • Wait for a few more minutes for the next rope drop.  Do not be tempted by the yummy breakfast smells wafting out of the door to Cinderella's Royal Table (if you haven't made Advance Dining Reservations by this point, you've missed your chance, in any case).

  • Ride #1.  Go directly to Dumbo!  You may think that you are too old for this ride, but you are not.  Take lots of pictures that you will post on Facebook later in the day in order to embarrass your spouse and/or teenage children.

  • Ride #2.  As most of your party walks with purpose towards The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, send Dad or Cousin Orville over to Peter Pan to secure FastPasses for everyone.  Ride Pooh once Dad/Orville has returned.

  • Ride #3.  For those of you who can stomach it, ride The Mad Tea Party (wheeeee!).

  • Ride #4.  It's time for Snow White's Scary Adventure. Extra credit: name all of the dwarves.

  • Ride #5.  Cinderella's Golden Carousel. You know you love it, but you often skip it. Take the time to do this beautiful ride. Make sure that you get a really pretty horse that goes up and down. No fighting amongst the ladies for the pink one.

  • Ride (OK, Attraction) #6. Take a break, and go see Mickey's PhilharMagic. It seems like it might not be such a great idea to get to Ten by Ten to stop to do this show, but there will be almost no wait at this time of the morning, and it offers a wonderful sing-along opportunity.

  • Ride #7.  Walk (again, with purpose!) to Tomorrowland, and wait in line for Space Mountain. There will be a line, but it won't be long. (If you are lucky and the lines are really short, ride again. Bonus!)

  • Ride #8.  Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. Hope that the ride stops for a few moments in a room with targets, so that you can rack up the points, and beat your spouse's score. (Not that we are competitive in MY family. And not that I have EVER beaten my spouse's score. Argggghhh.)

  • Ride #9.  It's back to Fantasyland for "it's a small world." Use the time on the ride to rest your weary feet after the very fast walk (no running!) back from Tomorrowland.  Another sing-along opportunity, but please, don't upset your fellow passengers, try to stay on tune.

  • Ride #10.  Use your FastPass for Peter Pan's Flight.  Start to relax.

You did it!  It should now be just about 10 a.m. 

  • Saunter (slowly, with little purpose other than smelling the roses, oh, and taking a closer look at the mosaics in the Castle that you rushed by so unceremoniously a few hours ago) back to Main Street. Or better yet, catch one of the Main Street Vehicles in front of the Castle, to take you back.

  • Breathe deeply.

  • Go directly to the Main Street Bakery.

  • Feed everyone a leisurely second breakfast.

  • Coffee (preferably strong) for the grown-ups.

The strategy outlined above encompasses the first piece of advice that I give (to anyone who asks, or sometimes even to those who don't ask) to first-time visitors to any Disney Park:  Get there early! Preferably well in advance of the time that the park actually opens. Then, do the rides and attractions that you most want to do, concentrating your rides in areas that are in close proximity to each other (Disneyland's Fantasyland is even better for this strategy since it has more attractions than Fantasyland at Walt Disney World). Crowds are lightest early in the morning, and lines are shortest. Save shopping, eating and meandering for later in the day, when the lines start backing up, and you begin to make judicious use of FastPasses.

So now, back to that conversation my husband had with his colleague, "Fred," AFTER he explained the strategy outlined above. In detail.

Fred:  "Dude, you have been spending WAY too much time thinking about this stuff."

Rob:  "Yeah, I guess I have. Gotta get in shape for the next trip with the grandparents. They've been working out."



Alice McNutt Miller is a lifelong Disney fan whose fondest childhood memories include "The Wonderful World of Disney" on Sunday nights and her first trip to Disneyland when she was 10 years old. Alice and her family are Disney Vacation Club members, and have visited Disney parks all over the world. They live in Vienna, Virginia.

Her other contributions to AllEars.Net include:

The Tyranny of the Spreadsheet: http://allears.net/ae/issue504.htm
Time for...? An Answer to the Tyranny of the Spreadsheet: http://allears.net/ae/issue515.htm

Alice has also written an AllEars.Net guest blog about Finding Disney Magic on Broadway:


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.