It’s About Time!

by Mike Scopa, AllEars® Staff Writer

Feature Article

This article appeared in the
March 18, 2008 Issue #443 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

Actually it's about saving time… which is something that has grown in importance for me every time I've visited Walt Disney World.

It's very much intertwined with the realization that I might be taking for granted all the time-saving knowledge I have gathered over the years. This intellectual property has some value and I've been guilty for too long for not recognizing it.

Are you guilty of the same crime? It's possible. In fact what you may take for granted may be more highly valued by me and vice versa.

So I thought it would be good to do a mind dump of at least some of the timesavers I have learned over the years and share these little gems with you. Hopefully once I sit back and actually read them I will have a new appreciation for them and how they have optimized my time in Orlando.

From the many visits to Walt Disney World, I have often found myself on "autopilot," doing things I considered as routine and trivial. However, what is trivial to one person may be seen quite differently by someone else. When I started thinking about the little things that I do, I realized that I never really noticed them until I started making a few solo research and running trips. It was on those trips that I began to take note of the little things that could add up to valuable time savings.

So for what it's worth here are some of my habitual tendencies that I hope will add value to your next Walt Disney World visit. I hope these are especially helpful to those of you planning either your very first trip or your first visit back in a long time.

Airport Time-Savers

Here are a few thoughts for those of you flying into Orlando's International Airport (MCO).

Again, the focus here is saving time, so why not begin as soon as your plane touches the ground? I used to unbuckle my seatbelt as soon as I could, race off the plane, and sprint to baggage claim to grab my luggage. I ended up waiting 15-20 minutes for my stuff to appear on the belt. Now I just relax as the plane empties… obviously it helps if I have a window and not an aisle seat, otherwise I'd be holding up anyone sitting in my row. Once the last person has passed my row, THEN I get up and leave the plane. I take my time, gather all my belongings (hmmm, that has a familiar ring to it) and make my way leisurely to baggage claim. Since adopting this technique I usually wait no more than a couple of minutes at baggage claim.

If you are traveling with someone else why not have one person pick up the luggage at baggage claim while the other one goes to the rental car counter to take care of securing the car? Multi-tasking saves time.

Let's also look at the business of renting a car.

Whether you are traveling solo or not there is potential for you to save a huge chunk of time if you elect to take advantage of the counter-skipping options offered by the car rental agencies. For example, look at National Car Rental's Emerald Club membership. If you rent a car using Emerald Club and Emerald Aisle then you can go directly from baggage claim to the garage, choose your car, check out and get on your way. You never know what you'll find regarding a line at the car rental counter, so why not save time and skip the counter? I've been avoiding the counter for almost three years now and can't see doing it any other way.

These several techniques have resulted in my saving at least 30 minutes in getting from my seat on the plane to saying hello to the cast member checking me in at my resort. On average I would say the time savings is about 45 minutes.

Managing the Monorail

A few years back while on a solo trip, I remember one day saying to myself that I was going to study all aspects of a visit to the Magic Kingdom. This started when I took the monorail from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the Magic Kingdom. It was by accident that I noticed something that at the time seemed insignificant, but has proven to influence me whenever I take the monorail from the TTC to Magic Kingdom.

When I boarded the express monorail at the TTC I entered the next to last car. To be more specific, I entered through the rear doors of that car. When I arrived at the Magic Kingdom I realized something. The rear doors of the third car open some 10 feet from the ramp that goes down to the theme park. I could hit that ramp before the crowd and not have to wait as the crowd swell slowly thins to allow everyone to squeeze into that narrow ramp. It may mean only a few minutes of savings but remember — it's about time.

When coming from the opposite direction, from the Grand Floridian, it is the front doors of the second monorail car that will put you close to the ramp.

It may not always be possible to get to these two spots but if you can it is worth it… also worth it to stand near the doors rather than sit down.

Bag Check Tip

I noticed this gem on my last two trips and my last six visits to the Magic Kingdom.

On each visit when I approached security bag check I went to the leftmost line on the left side and found that to be the shortest line and quickest way to get through and on to the turnstiles. Why?

Well, in the first place I noticed that guests tend to group toward the middle… that is, to the right side of the left bag check area and to the left side of the right bag check area. Also, many guests do not realize that each security person checking bags is servicing two lines and sometimes the security person on the leftmost side is standing on the left side of the table. That left side is actually a line waiting to be started.

The turnstiles to the left side are often dealing with shorter lines than those to the right. Guests coming off buses, the ferry boat and launches add to the right side of bag check and turnstiles. Also, Guest Relations is on that side. So there are several "channels" that feed the right side of the entrance area to the Magic Kingdom.

For this reason when entering the Magic Kingdom I always head for the leftmost turnstile.

This will be our secret, OK?

Right or Left?

I'm sure you've all heard it, especially after reading my last tip — go to the left and you'll save time.

Well it's not true all the time. Let me give you an example.

When visiting the Haunted Mansion at a busy time the queue can be somewhat long. If this is the case try to work your way to the right side of the queue. There is a very subtle right bend in that queue and that bend allows guests on the right side to reach the attraction doors well before guests on the left.

It's true. I've tested it.

There may be other attractions that have subtle bends in the queues. Take advantage of them and remember that going to the left does not always save time.

Dial to Dine

I remember a friend of mine once told me how she spent a lot of time one day in Epcot walking to all the restaurants to find one that had an opening so she and her family could eat. She burned a lot of time doing this exercise. Many people don't realize that you can walk up to most restaurant podiums and ask to have them check on availability for other restaurants. That will save time.

Even better, why not add the Disney Dining phone number (407 939 3463) to your cell phone's contact list? This allows you to check at any time for restaurant availability rather than have to go to a restaurant podium… much less wait in line to get to the podium.

Train Time-Saver

When taking the train from either Frontierland (Splash Mountain) or Mickey's ToonTown to the Main Street Train Station, if possible, try to ride in either the first or last car — preferably the last car. If you are able to do so then when you arrive at Main Street USA, you'll be right near the exit ramp and will be able to scoot down the ramp and not have to deal with the crowd again slowly inching to the exit.

Boardwalk at Magic Kingdom

Sometimes combining a few time-saving ideas results in some very nice time dividends.

At the Magic Kingdom it goes without saying that if there are two showings of SpectroMagic (or any nighttime parade) then you are best to forego the early performance and visit popular attractions at that time and plan to watch the later parade. Consider visiting Fantasyland attractions right about the time SpectroMagic begins. Crowds should be at their lowest point in Fantasyland in the evening when SpectroMagic weaves its way up Main Street USA.

From Fantasyland you can then visit Haunted Mansion or make use of the Liberty Square/Frontierland Boardwalk to make your way to Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

The idea here is twofold. First you have the parade which draws people away from the attractions and secondly, some guests may not realize that they can use that boardwalk to get to Splash and Big Thunder.

World Showcase Early Access

Let's focus a bit on Epcot, specifically World Showcase.

If you happen to plan one day to visit just the World Showcase portion of Epcot you may want to consider heading to one of the Epcot resorts in the morning for breakfast. These include the Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk, or the Swan and Dolphin Resort. Once Future World opens you will be allowed to enter Epcot through the International Gateway and will be able to stroll through the United Kingdom and Canada. Once the official opening time for World Showcase arrives you will be able to cross over to France and beyond. This has saved me quite a lot of time.

More Ideas?

These are just a few timesavers from those I have stumbled upon over the years. I'm just scratching the surface and I will continue discussing more timesavers in an upcoming "View from Scopa Towers" blog entry.

If you have any timesavers of your own to share please feel free to send them along so I can share them with everyone else. Remember… we're all in this together! Because let's face it — when it comes to our visiting Walt Disney World, it's about time!



Mike Scopa has been a huge Disney fan for as long as he can remember. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1975 and has returned many times (how many? he's lost count!) since. Mike is a contributor to the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and Cara Goldsbury's Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World and has served as keynote speaker for the 2006 and 2007 MagicMeets. He is also co-host of the WDWTODAY Podcast.


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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.