Skate FAQs: Guides: Skate FAQs Guide to Walt Disney World Skate FAQsGuides

SkateFAQs Guide to Walt Disney World (Orlando, FL)

written Feb 12, 2005
last changed Mar 3, 2005

Since Disney now has (as of 2003) an annual Inline Skating Marathon, and I happen to live in Orlando, I thought I might provide some insight on how to make your visit to the Walt Disney World (WDW) parks and resorts a pleasant and trouble-free one. I assume most of you do not come that often, and would benefit from tips that could save you time and money. Money that could be better spent on souvenirs or skating equipment perhaps 8-)

I have ample opportunity (perhaps 25-30 times a year) to visit the various WDW parks, resorts, and other attractions, so my friends, family, and I have been able to hone our knowledge and technique (if you will) at getting the most out of each visit. This includes not only knowing where to stay and eat, but also insider tips to make your trip easier overall.

I am fortunate to have lots of friends and family that are "cast members" (as Disney employees are called) so the inside scoop is never far away.

I won't even try to re-invent the Disney travel-info site as there are many on the web already. Highly recommended is AllEarsNet.com for all the in-depth details. However, I can offer the SkateFAQ slant on things, as it pertains to the Inline Skating Marathon itself. Plus, I will try to distill this info into a Guide-like article that doesn't read like a travel agent brochure.

No hype when you buy skates, and no hype when you book a vacation!

Just as a disclaimer, the tips and other details described in this article are true to the best of my knowledge as of this writing. However, Disney is of course able to change any of this at any time. They may decide to offer transportation not previously available at a particular resort. They may change pricing, fees or amenities. Or whatever they feel like changing. So just keep in mind that the information is very much subject to change at Disney's whim.

Table of Contents:

About Walt Disney World

First, let me give you some general statistics on Walt Disney World. It is 44 square miles -- twice the size of Manhattan. And that's just the land that is developed. Yes, it is huge. For those of you that have been to DisneyLand in California, the entire DisneyLand park fits inside the parking lot of Disney World's Magic Kingdom theme park.

Hopefully that gives you a sense of the size and scale of Walt Disney World. The WDW theme parks are BIG. You can easily spend the whole day in just one of the parks and still not see everything. It is worth spending just a few minutes going over the park map when you first get to the theme park. Decide on what things you most want to do, and then plot a course from one attraction to the next. You will save much time and effort, plus you'll get to see more than if you just wander along. Even better, you can get a park map in the lobby of your Disney resort beforehand and have this step all taken care of when you get to the park, instead of spending the first hour trying to figure out what all you want to do.

If you only plan to be here for the Inline Marathon weekend it would be unrealistic to expect that you will also have the time (and energy) to see "everything" that Walt Disney World has to offer. Even a weekend that does not include the marathon does not provide enough time to visit all four Disney theme parks, both water parks and the many, many other opportunities for diversion available at WDW. If you want to make this a real Disney World vacation, expect to stay at least a week, especially if you want to include the marathon events. If the marathon weekend is literally all the time that you can be here then I strongly recommend that you pick one "can't miss" theme park or other location to visit while you are here. If you find that you still have a bit of time to spare there is always something going on at Disney World to fill your time, even at the last minute.

Also, do not expect to be able to skate freely on Disney property as a mode of transportation. Florida law does not allow you to skate on the roads. Cars or one of the Disney-provided modes of transportation (bus, monorail, or boat) are the only viable and safe ways to get around from location to location on property.

For recreational skating, the official policy is that you should call or ask at the resort in which you're staying. Many resorts do not have a good path or area to skate on anyway. But others (such as Ft. Wilderness perhaps) may have skate-friendly areas. (Someday I need to do a formal Where-to-Skate article on WDW).

Also, as tempting as it may be, the no-skates rule goes for inside the parks as well, so don't even try to get through the gate on your skates. The only things on wheels allowed in the park are strollers and wheelchairs (manual and motorized). Not even Segways are allowed, sadly. Although sometimes you'll see some employees on Segways, but no such luck for the visitors.

One final introductory note. Ever since 9/11 guests are required to allow a search of their bags prior to entering the theme parks. This is done in a covered location that has waist high tables to sit your backpack/bag on to be inspected by security. It is not as onerous as airport security checks, but you still have to stop and open your bags nevertheless. If you happen to travel light there is always a line for guests with no bags. Just look for the signs and walk right in.

Okay, on to the good stuff.

Lodging at Walt Disney World

First, know that there are currently 23 resorts at WDW. If you are overwhelmed by the many choices here is a quick primer. Disney classifies the resorts into four levels, based on the pricing and amenities: Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Home Away From Home. Translation: Money, More Money, Lots of Money, and "Mama, get the smellin' salts!" 8-)

Lest you think that the tens of thousands of rooms amongst the 23 resorts means Disney always has the room you want available, trust me when I tell you that they can and do often sell out. You may be wanting a Value room but find only Deluxe rooms available. If you know your dates and travel plans for sure, it is wise to book your room(s) as soon as possible.

The resorts are also grouped by the theme park or area that they are closest to. So the Disney property road signs will always direct you to Magic Kingdom area resorts, Epcot area resorts, Downtown Disney area resorts, and so on. These groupings can, but won't always, include more than one level of resort (i.e., Animal Kingdom resorts include Values, Moderates and Deluxes, while the Magic Kingdom resorts include Deluxes and Home Away From Homes).

There are four pricing seasons at Disney, and the date ranges for each one changes slightly every year. In order of pricing, the seasons are: Value, Regular, Peak, and Holiday. The pricing seasons also vary depending on the level of resort as well (which we'll cover later). For the dates of the 2005 Inline Marathon (Expo is April 30 and race day is May 1), your stay should fall squarely in the Regular pricing season. Regular pricing is just as it sounds. Not the cheapest (Value season) but not the priciest either (Holiday seaon). If you want to know all the seasons for all the resorts, look at Mousesavers.com's 2005 season dates page.

Walt Disney World Geography

Okay, first let's look at how Walt Disney World is laid out, so you know the locations of everything relative to the Wide World of Sports Complex:

Walt Disney World Map
(Map courtesy of Walt Disney World, all copyrights to Disney, Inc.; overlay graphics and text by SkateFAQ.com)

The Sports Complex, as you can see, is at the south end of WDW property. Animal Kingdom and Disney-MGM Studios are the closest parks, followed by Epcot. The Magic Kingdom park is significantly farther than everything else, being at the north end of WDW property. We will touch on this later, so keep this in mind.

For comparison, look at the race course for the 2005 marathon. The course leaves the Sports complex, goes behind MGM-Studios, exit out the front of MGM-Studios, then onto the Boardwalk area, into the Epcot World Showcase (countries) out the front of Epcot, and then the last 6 or 7 miles it looks like it's all road until you hit the finish line (or start of the second lap).

Note: Do not bothering asking for, nor expect to be booked into, a resort that is "close to everything". As you can see from the maps, that resort simply does not exist. The sheer size of Walt Disney World property dictates that where ever you are staying it will be close to SOMETHING, maybe even more than one thing, but it will also be far away from other things. My advice is just try to get close to whatever means the most to you or even select your resort based on how much you will enjoy the theming. But please don't stress over trying to be "close" to everything. Just relax and enjoy the Disney transportation. They have been doing this for a long time and really do know the best way to get you where you are going.

Value Resorts

The Value properties include the All-Stars and Pop Century. The All-Star complex consists of three sister resorts, each with their own theming: All-Star Sports, All-Star Music, and All-Star Movies. The recently-opened Pop Century resort, includes different buildings themed by decade (the 1940's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's).

The three All-Star resorts are Animal Kingdom area resorts. Pop Century is close to the All-Stars, but is officially designated as a Disney's Wide World of Sports area resort, making it the closest resort to the site of the marathon. In any case, these four resorts are the closest ones to the starting (and finish) line of the Inline Marathon at the Sports Complex.

Walt Disney World Map - Animal Kingdom
(Map courtesy of Walt Disney World, all copyrights to Disney, Inc.; overlay graphics and text by SkateFAQ.com)

Pop Century is a bit newer, and so perhaps a little nicer looking and feeling than the All-Stars, but all the Value properties are pretty darned nice regardless. Pop Century is actually only half open. The second half, featuring even different decades, will be opened at a later date, doubling this resorts capacity to over 5600 rooms.

Insider Tip:

If you chose to stay at the All-Stars and will rely on the bus transportation, the All-Star Sports is better as far as convenience is concerned. The All-Star resorts are situated one after the other in a row, with the first stop at Sports, so the buses are more likely to have seats available at that point. By the time they swing around to All-Star Music and then Movies, they are often completely full and can't even stop to pick anyone up during the busy times of day (and especially so during the times of the year where they are booked solid). So if you stay at Movies or Music, you might have to wait for several buses to come by, before you can get a ride!

Also, since All-Star Sports is the first stop, on the way back to the resorts, you are the first to get back to your nice comfy room when you are tired at the end of the day.

Note that each of the All-Star Resorts is comprised of 10 guest room buildings plus a main building housing the lobby, check-in, arcade and food court. The buildings spread out over the resort and if you should end up with a room in the very last building, in the very back of the resort you can expect a fairly significant hike to get to the amenities in the front (i.e. swimming pool, food, bus stop). The interior of all rooms at the Value resorts is esentially the same in size, furnishings and bedding (two doubles). The rooms with a king-sized bed are typically disabled access rooms and will often have a non-standard bathroom layout to accomodate wheelchairs.

If you want to be closer to the main building you can ask for a preferred category room which will put you in one of the two buildings closest to the main building. The ONLY difference between a standard room and a preferred room is its location. These rooms are slightly more expensive (maybe $10-15 per night) but worth it if you don't want to have to walk as far every time. But since you're going to be in a marathon (even if it is an inline skating one), having to walk an extra hundred yards should be nothing, right? 8-)

One note about staying in a preferred room. Being near the main building, means being near the swimming pools. Unless it's freezing (which it is, for all of maybe two months in Orlando), the pools will probably be busy all night long until they close at midnight. So if you can't sleep through noise, and want to be assured of a quiet night's sleep, you may opt for a building a little further out.

In a nutshell, what to expect from a value-class resorts:

  1. Food-courts instead of sit-down restaurants, in-room pizza delivery from the food court (but that's it for the limited room service)
  2. Bus transportation only (unless you drive)
  3. Smaller rooms (and don't expect any suites). Connecting rooms exist, but are typically assigned only to families that have several children and require multiple rooms.
  4. Two double beds or a single king-sized bed in each room. (No charge for king beds, but you will be in a handicap-accessible room that has a bathroom designed for wheelchair access.)
  5. No slides in the pools (you need to stay at a Moderate or Deluxe property)
  6. Lots of families with kids
  7. Room rates can be as low as $80ish (obviously check the Disney site for up-to-date rates)

Moderate Resorts

The Moderates are the next step up from the Value properties. These are significantly nicer resorts all around. They're also themed to emulate various locales: Port Orleans French Quarter Resort (New Orleans), Port Orleans Riverside Resort (Missippippi River), Coronado Springs Resort (Mexico, Southwest America), Caribbean Resort (Antarctica ... no, the Caribbean of course!).

Walt Disney World Map - Animal Kingdom
(Map courtesy of Walt Disney World, all copyrights to Disney, Inc.; overlay graphics and text by SkateFAQ.com)

The Moderates are more like what people consider to be a "resort", instead of the rectangular multi-story buildings of the Value properties. You will check in at the main building, but typically your room will be in a building at a separate wing that you will drive to. As usual, the restaurants, pools, and other shared amenties are usually at or near the main building.

Insider Tip:
  • Port Orleans: French Quarter has recently been renovated (as of mid-2004), so it should be nice and new. One of the nice features is that each room has a privacy curtain between the bedroom and sink area. Note: Port Orleans French Quarter is the smallest of all the Disney Resorts which gives it a nice cozy feel and makes it easy to get around (you will feel that you are pretty close to everything). When French Quarter merged with Port Orleans Riverside Resort it lost its sit down restaurant so guests are expected to hoof it over to Riverside for sit down dining at Boatwrights. Fortunately, French Quarter is not completely without victuals as they still do have their own food court.

  • At the Coronado Springs food court (called the Pepper Market), when you pay for your order, they will automatically add a 10% "surcharge" to your bill. While they do not wait on you, they do take your drink order at your table and bring it to you. This is the only moderate resort where they do this. To avoid this surcharge, simply request take-out for your order and sit at some of the lovely umbrella festooned tables nearby, but not actually IN the Pepper Market.

    On the plus side, the Coronado Springs is the only Moderate resort to have it's own health club, and their sit-down restaurant (Maya Grill) is quite good.

  • Port Orleans Riverside and Caribbean: Some buildings at these two resorts don't have elevators. If it makes a difference to you, make sure to request to be placed in a building with elevators when you book the room. Ask again at the front desk when you check in, just to be sure.

What to expect from a moderate-class property:

  1. Both a food-court and a sit-down restaurant (one in each resort). Some room service is available.
  2. Bus transportation only (unless you drive). The minor exception is Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside which offers Trumbo Ferry transport to the Downtown Disney shopping/dining area.)
  3. Nicer, larger rooms with upgraded furnishings
  4. Two double beds or a single King-sized bed (extra charge), in each room.
  5. Pools have slides (which the Value resort pools don't)
  6. Room rates can be around $140ish (obviously check the Disney site for up-to-date rates)

Remember that since Coronado Springs is an Animal Kingdom area resort, it is not close to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot. But it is actually one of the closer resorts to the starting line for the Inline Skating Marathon.

Deluxe Resorts

The Deluxe resorts are quite nice (as you might expect), and have very convenient access to the parks (bus, monorail AND boat). These resorts include the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Grand Floridian, Boardwalk, Contemporary, Yacht Club, Polynesian Resort, and the Wilderness Lodge. There are only three resorts on the monorail line - the Contemporary, Polynesian and the Grand Floridian. The others have boat and bus transportation. And no, Disney is probably not going to build the monorail line to any other resorts anytime soon.

There are also two partner hotels that are considered in the Deluxe category, the Dolphin and the Swan. These hotels are on Disney property, but are actually run by another company.

Walt Disney World Map - Animal Kingdom
(Map courtesy of Walt Disney World, all copyrights to Disney, Inc.; overlay graphics and text by SkateFAQ.com)

As you can see from the map, all the Magic Kingdom area resorts are rather far away from the Sports Complex. If being close to the marathon start/finish line is important to you AND you want to stay in a deluxe resort, then choose either the Animal Kingdom Lodge or one of the Epcot deluxe resorts.

Insider Tip:
  • If being close to the marathon start/finish line is important to you, the Animal Kingdom Lodge or one of the Epcot area deluxe resorts are the closest of the Deluxe resorts.

  • Being on the monorail line (Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian) is NOT an advantage on race day, since the monorail does not extend to the Disney Wide World of Sports complex. You'll have to take the bus or drive like everyone else.

What to expect from a deluxe-class property:

  1. More than one sit-down restaurant at each resort as well as a walk-up take-out food, and full Room Service available for dining
  2. Lots more room amenities (some you have to request)
  3. Multiple convenient modes of transportation (boat, bus, monorail (but not to the race events!))
  4. Room rates can be around $300ish (check the Disney site for up-to-date rates)

Our favorites include the Wilderness Lodge and Boardwalk. The Contemporary and Polynesian, are still very nice, but are the ones showing the most age (although they are in the process of renovation for the next year or so). In several resorts, like the Contemporary or the Grand Floridian, if you want to stay in the main buildling you will have to pay extra. Otherwise you'll be in a room in the outer buildings.

Home Away From Home Resorts

The Home Away From Home resorts have spacious rooms and suites with kitchens built-in. Some of these resorts are part of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) timeshare program, so room availability is usually limited f non-DVC members. DVC members get first dibs on rooms in this resorts, so only what is left over is made available for non-DVC members to book. These resorts include Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa (brand new in 2004), Old Key West, Beach Club Villas, Boardwalk Villas, and the Villas at Wilderness Lodge.

These rooms are particularly nice if you have a sizeable group and/or would like to make all or some of your own meals to save money.

Walt Disney World Map - Animal Kingdom
(Map courtesy of Walt Disney World, all copyrights to Disney, Inc.; overlay graphics and text by SkateFAQ.com)

One less well-known resort, which is a Home Away From Home resort but not a DVC property, is the Ft. Wilderness Campgrounds. While you may think "campgrounds" implies being stranded in the middle of the woods, nothing could be further from it. This is "camping" Disney style! If you have an recreational vehicle (RV) you can rent a spot to park and plug in your utilities. Or you can camp in a tent, of course. Otherwise you can opt to stay in one the very nice cabins. These are log cabins, but they come with all the amenities, air-conditioning, cable and maid service. They are fully furnished, with kitchen, dining area, full bathroom and separate bedroom. You can sleep six adults in one of these cabins, so they are great for larger familes, since you don't have to spring for two separate rooms.

Also, Ft. Wilderness has some great and unique amenties which are complimentary for resort guests or made available for a small fee. There's a petting zoo, hayrides, campfire program, playground, and a small beach.

And one of the best kept screts is the Ft. Wilderness restaurant, Trail's End Buffeteria. Trail's End is one of the best dining values in all of Disney property. All you can eat buffet meals are around $11 (adult) and $7 (child).

The main drawback to Trail's End is that you cannot just drive up to it. The only cars allowed on Ft. Wilderness property are for people staying in a cabin (or camping). The restaurant has no car parking, only golf carts (which many people use to get around there) or bikes, etc. There is an internal bus that runs continuously through the campground property (over 700 acres in size) to assist in getting you where you need to go.

Insider Tip:

If you plan on getting groceries to stock up for your stay, you will very likely want a rental car for your stay. Otherwise you'll end up getting your groceries at Disney prices at the stores inside the resorts.

What to expect from a Home Away From Home resort:

  1. Built-in kitchen and dining area in the room
  2. Washer and dryer in most units
  3. Some sit-down restaurants
  4. Lots more room amenities of course
  5. Multiple convenient modes of transportation (boat, bus, monorail (but not to the race events!))
  6. Room rates can be around $300ish (check the Disney site for up-to-date rates)

Overall Lodging Tips

Dining at Walt Disney World

Since everyone needs to eat, and there are so many choices available, I figure I'd spend a good portion of this article devoted to dining options at WDW. There are over 250 places to eat on WDW property, that serve a wide range of tastes and budgets, so Disney restaurants serve food in a variety of ways:

With this many places to eat at WDW, one might think food can be had at any given time. Well, that's partly true. If you don't mind walk-up service all the time, then you might be okay. But if you would like proper sit-down meals each day, then you need to plan ahead. The problem is that you and every other person at the same park/resort all usually get hungry at around the same times. And Disney just can't seat everyone simultaneously.

Fortunately, meals are not just a free for all. Disney restaurants do not take reservations, but instead they have what's called Priority Seating (PS). PS is similar to a reservation, in that you make a PS for a given time (say 6:30pm for a particular restaurant). However, it doesn't mean you are guaranteed to be seated at that time. You are simply given priority to be seated, when that time comes. This means you get seated before anyone that just walks up to the restaurant hoping that there will be a free table. The people that just walked up will have to wait for everyone else that has PS to be seated, before they get a chance. But you could still have to wait 20-30 minutes, until a table frees up. That's the main difference between PS and a traditional reservation.

So if you absorb no other piece of dining-related advice in this article, absorb this:

If you plan to have sit-down meals, decide on and make your dining priority seating arrangements as soon as possible. 90 days in advance is not too soon!

For most restaurants, you can make priority seating arrangements 90 days in advance. Some dinner shows even start booking one and two years(!) in advance, but in most cases it will be 90 days. So for April 29 (the day before the Inline Expo day), you can start booking PS around the Jan 29 timeframe. A few places let you book farther in advance, and some don't start booking until 30 or 60 days in advance, but you can visit the All Ears web site Priority Seating calculator to see for yourself.

Insider Tip:

One of the hardest meals to get a priority seating at is breakfast at Magic Kingdom's Cinderella's Royal Table. As noted earlier, most dining books 90 days in advance. The seating is very limited at Cinderella's, and the breakfast happens to be a character meal, which means Cinderella will be visiting you while you dine. Every family with a little girl wants to eat there while they're at Magic Kingdom. There's only so many seats, and so many hours that breakfast lasts. If you want to maximize your chances of getting a seating, you will have to set your clock for 6:58am EST exactly 90 days before the day you want to eat there. And then call the dining line to try and get into the queue right when they start taking calls at 7:00am EST. Even then, you are not guaranteed a table. Literally in 5 minutes, all the seating for all of breakfast (for 90 days later, remember) is booked solid. This happens nearly every single day.

Even during a typical non-special event day, it is often hard to get PS at many restaurants, simply because they are very popular and/or have limited seating. A lot of people are surprised that they can't just walk up at any time and get seated right away. As "magical" as Disney is, they cannot conjure up an infinite amount of tables and chairs, just because you didn't do any planning and are standing there looking hungry. Plan ahead now while you have the luxury of leisurely researching which restaurants you want to eat at and how much you want to spend on food. Then book all your dining ahead of time (meaning as soon as possible!). There are no deposits required, so you should feel free to make all your priority seating bookings sooner than later.

This is especially recommended during the times when special events like the Inline Marathon are taking place. You don't want to be trying to find a place to "carbo load" the night before the race, only to find everything is booked and you have to end up eating fast-food type fare. Either that or you might have to wait 45-60 minutes just to get a table.

Tip:

Some of the food courts sell "bottomless" plastic mugs. These cost $11.95 and are decorated with artwork specific to the resort where you purchase them (the reosrt you are staying at), for this price the mug goes home with you as a souvenier and entitles you to unlimited refills of drinks from the self-serve drink bar at the food court of your resort. You will continue to receive the "free" refills for the entire length of your stay. To help keep them clean, some people like to use the disposable Palmolive (dish detergent) throwaway wipes to wash them in the room at the end of the night. In the morning your mug is clean, dry and ready to go. For less fastidious types (or those caught without dish soap) a swish and rinse at the end of each night should suffice.

Favorite Restaurants

Although I'm sure my tastes won't always be the same as yours, here's my short list of favorite restuarants at Walt Disney World.

Magic Kingdom:

EPCOT:

Resorts:

Elsewhere:

Others that are good, but that we don't frequent as much:

For recent menus, pricing, and other dining details look at All Ears Net's Dining Guide.

Cheap Eats

As is the common thread in many of the SkateFAQ Guides, you don't have to spend a fortune to get what you need or want. And so it is with dining at Walt Disney World. While you could eat at the higher-end restaurants all the time, that really puts a dent into your wallet. Fortunately, there's always a good alternative, and to save you the trial-and-error during your visit, here's the ones we've found to be pretty decent for a reasonable price:

EPCOT: The walk-up restaurants in the World Showcase (most of the countries have one walk-up/take-out dining and one sit-down dining) are usually pretty decent.

Tip:

Many of the walk-up restaurants price their sandwiches or entrees as a combination meal (meaning it will include a side-order, usually fries or chips, and a drink). If you want to save a few bucks, you can request that one of the meals be just the entree with no side-order. And then you can split the side-order from the other meals.

Magic Kingdom:

Resorts:

Downtown Disney: Downtown Disney is the very expansive shopping and dining area near Epcot (see the maps).

Transportation

Getting to Walt Disney World

If you're flying into Orlando, you'll have all the standard methods of transportation to get to your resort: shuttles, towncars, and car rentals.

Insider Tip:

The Mears shuttle is a roundtrip fare of $29 per adult and $21 per child (ages 4-11). The towncar is perhaps around $95 roundtrip, but is for the whole car. So for a family of 4, it's actually cheaper per person than taking the shuttle! And you get driven directly to your resort, since there's no one else that's sharing your car.

As with many airports, some car rental companies have more convenient access than others. So while some will have their car rental station right in the parking ramp, others you will have to take a shuttle for a ways off the airport property.

Magical Express: Although this service is not available until May 5, 2005, I thought I'd mention this for upcoming years. Magical Express is Disney's own shuttle and luggage service for guests staying at Disney resorts. When you book your room, you will receive special tags for your luggage. When you arrive at Orlando International Airport (airport code MCO), you can bypass baggage claim completely. You just get on the shuttle and go to your resort. The bags will be taken to your resort and your room automatically.

Not only that, but on your return trip, you can check-in and get your boarding pass AT THE RESORT. This let's you bypass the check-in counter on your way home too.

Oh and the best part, is that this service is FREE, if you are staying at a Disney resort. So how's that for incentive to stay at a Disney resort?

For the details, see AllEarsNet's ground transportation page.

Theme Parks

As mentioned before, there are four theme parks at WDW:

Magic Kingdom
Although many people mistakenly call it simply "Disney World", most people are thinking of the Magic Kingdom theme park. MK was the first WDW park to open, so it is the most readily identified with Disney World. Magic Kingdom has Cinderalla's Castle, and all the classic rides you've probably heard about or seen in pictures: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, It's a Small World (which is unfortunately closed for renovation until Spring 2005).

Although not convenient for getting to the Inline Marathon starting line, staying at one of the monorail-accessible resorts (the Contemporary, Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian) provides extremely easy access to Magic Kingdom. You can even walk right over to the Transportation and Ticketing Center (TTC), if you're staying at the Contemporary or Polynesian, since it is literally right next to them. The TTC is the hub for where all the buses, monorails, and some of the ferry boats connect. From the TTC, it's just a monorail or ferry boat ride to Magic Kingdom. Or you can always take a boat that goes right to the park gates from several of the Magic Kingdom area resorts.

EPCOT (originally called the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, but now officially is just "Epcot")
The most iconic feature of Epcot is the huge geodesic silver globe which houses the Spaceship Earth ride. Epcot is compromised of two main sections: Future World and World Showcase. Future World has lots of exhibits or rides dealing with technology (past and future). The newest ride is Mission: Space, which simulates a launch into space (it's a very exhilarating ride, although perhaps not for the faint of stomach!). World Showcase highlights the people, food and culture of various countries (China, Mexico, France, Italy, Canada, UK, Norway, Japan, Morocco, Germany, and America). Epcot is twice the size of Magic Kingdom, so bring your walking shoes. There is lots of great dining to be had in the World Showcase countries.

Tip:

Future World opens two hours earlier than World Showcase and also closes two hours earlier. This may not seem significant but if you have decided earlier in the day to go on a Future World ride on your way out of the park because the line is too long, you might find that ride is closed already when you return to it. Only a few of the Future World attractions stay open all the way to park closing time.

You can actually enter Epcot from a second entrance in the back of the park, in the World Showcase area, right in between the UK pavilion and France. So if you want to go to the countries directly, this is a convenient option. You can only reach this entrance by ferry boat, or even by walking from the Epcot-area resorts. Some of the Epcot-area resorts (Yacht and Beach Club and the Boardwalk) are within moderate walking distance. Be aware that this entrance does not have its own parking area. It is primarily used by guests staying at the Boardwalk Inn/Villas, Beach Club Resort/Villas, Yacht Club, the Swan and the Dolphin. Still, its nice to know about in case you want to pop out of Epcot to dine at one of these resort locations and then return to Epcot.

Disney-MGM Studios
Most any attraction or ride to do with movies, TV, or music is at MGM Studios. There's a Star Wars ride, Playhouse Disney, Animators Studio, Rock-n-Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and the Beauty and The Beast live show, to name a few. For good food, the Brown Derby is an excellent choice. MGM Studios is the smallest park, so usually a full day is enough to see most of the choice attractions. If you're into thrill rides though, you may want to stay longer. Rock-n-Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror are definitely a rush!.

Animal Kingdom
As Disney likes to say in the Animal Kingdom commercials, it's Nahtazu ("not a zoo"). And indeed it isn't. The animals are most often in open spaces and not just behind bars. On the safari tour you are essentially on the tour bus and the animals are out in wide-open spaces. There's lots of educational exhibits along with fun rides like Kali River Rapids (white water raft ride) and the It's Tough To Be a Bug 3-D movie. Be forewarned, the water rides WILL get you wet. Also, this theme park typically closes the earliest of all of them due to the animals being on a set schedule and don't expect fireworks either...the animals are not fond of them so you won't see them here.

Anyway, I won't rehash what many other sites have covered in great detail. Again, All Ears Net is the place to go for Disney info: Theme park info.

Tip:

If you've followed my advice and decided ahead of time on which attractions you want to see (or ride) and have determined a route through each park, make sure you take advantage of Fast Pass. Fast Pass is a way to reserve a spot in line for a particular ride, at a future time, so that you do not have to spend your entire stay, standing in line waiting. Fast Pass is free to anyone admitted into the park.

How Fast Pass works, is that the most popular rides have a set of ticket dispensers, in which you swipe your park ticket. Look at the park map to see which rides offer Fast Pass. The Fast Pass ticket you're issued will list the time window that you can come back and get on the ride. When you come back you get in the Fast Pass line (instead of the Standby line). Because there is a limited amount of people who have Fast Pass for that time window, you will very often be able to simply walk on the ride, waiting only a few minutes, or maybe even not at all.

You are allowed to get only one Fast Pass per park ticket, at a time. The time at which you can get another Fast Pass is shown on the Fast Pass ticket. So you can't really go around gathering Fast Pass for every ride and then just hit them all at once. However, if you plan your route smartly, you can grab a Fast Pass, and then go to another area or attraction that may not have (or need) Fast Pass.

For example, if you get a Fast Pass for Space Mountain or Buzz Lightyear at Magic Kingdom, there are many things around there that you can do, while you wait for your appointed time. There's the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA) ride, which is a nice leisurely ride on an elevated railway, which actually passes through all the major rides in Tomorrowland. You can see the inside of Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, etc. while you ride the TTA. Or you could visit the video arcade next to Space Mountain. Or you could look at some of the shops nearby, or take a break at a table. This way you're making productive use of your time at Disney.

Ticketing

Disney has just revamped their ticket pricing and options as of this writing (Jan 2005). I won't go into great detail if possible, since the ticketing can be pretty involved. But I'll cover the important stuff. For official details, look at Disney's Ticketing FAQ.

A few important terms you'll see in relation to tickets:

The new ticketing plan is called Magic Your Way. It lets you add any or all the features to the base ticket. The base ticket can include from 1 to 10 days of admission to a single theme park each day. In the past, you had to pay (as part of the bundled price) for no-expiration and park-hopping, even if you didn't want them. Now you decide what features you want to add onto your ticket.

Here's a pricing chart, as of Mar 3, 2005:

# of days Magic Your Way Base ticket Park Hopper option Magic Plus Pack option No expiration option
Ages 10+ Ages 3 - 9 $35 flat fee $45 flat fee
10 $208.00 + 13.52 tax = 221.52 ($22.15/day) $167.00 + 10.86 tax = 177.86 ($17.79/day) $35 5 uses $100
9 $205.00 + 13.33 tax = 218.33 ($24.26/day) 164.00 + 10.66 tax = 174.66 ($19.41/day) $35 5 uses $100
8 $202.00 + 13.13 tax = 215.13 ($26.89/day) $162.00 + 10.53 tax = 172.53 ($21.57/day) $35 5 uses $100
7 $199.00 + 12.94 tax = 211.94 ($30.28/day) $160.00 + 10.40 tax = 170.40 ($24.34/day) $35 5 uses $55
6 $196.00 + 12.74 tax = 208.74 ($34.79/day) $157.00 + 10.21 tax = 167.21 ($27.87/day) $35 4 uses $45
5 $193.00 + 12.55 tax = 205.55 ($41.11/day) $155.00 + 10.08 tax = 165.08 ($33.02/day) $35 3 uses $35
4 $185.00 + 12.03 tax = 197.03 ($49.26/day) $148.00 + 9.62 tax = 157.62 ($39.41/day) $35 3 uses $15
3 $171.00 + 11.12 tax = 182.12 ($60.71/day) $137.00 + 8.91 tax = 145.91 ($48.64/day) $35 2 uses $10
2 $119 + 7.74 tax = 126.74 ($63.37/day) $96.00 + 6.24 tax = 102.24 ($51.12/day) $35 2 uses $10
1 $59.75 + $3.89 tax = 63.64 $48.00 + $3.12 tax = 51.12 $35 2 uses n/a

You can also look at the AllEarsNet.Com's ticket chart for an idea of the pricing and number of days you can get on a ticket.

In the old ticketing scheme you had to have the same type of ticket package for everyone in your party. But now,you can customize per person. So while grandma and grandpa don't need to hop, and only need a couple days of admission, the teenagers may want to hop and have a whole week's admission.

If you have leftover tickets from the older ticketing system, you can exchange the remaining days as credit towards a new ticket.

Discounts, discounts, discounts

Fortunately, Disney offers discounts for a wide array of programs or reasons. But because they are not going to volunteer this information when you book your room -- you have to ask for it specifically. They do this since a) they can't spend 3 hours on each call asking if you qualify for this or that discount and b) they are not going to just give away that money, if you don't ask for it.

While I'm not going to cover everything that qualifies for a discount (I don't know them all, and they change all the time anyway), the most common ones are:

For the lowdown on discounts, go to Mousesavers.com.

Maximize your Dollars

The best way to really save money (and time) is to plan ahead. This way you won't get caught without a place to eat, and you won't be caught overspending. Figure out how much you want to budget for dining, lodging, tickets, and souvenirs now while you have the luxury of deciding without the pressure.

Have Fun

Anyway, hopefully this helps give you a good overview of what all you need to think about when you make your plans to race in the Disney Inline Marathon. Like anything, it takes a little practice to figure out the best way to do things. If you can benefit from our many experiences (both good and bad), you should save yourself a lot of hassle and a few bucks along the way. Plus, if you enjoy your visit, you'll want to come back every year. I want people to keep coming back, so that the marathon will always be around 8-)


[ HOME ]
Help support Skate FAQs!
General Info Techniques Marketplace Where to Skate Tutorials
FAQs
Ask Tony
Glossary
Wheels
Bearings
Clubs/Orgs
Rollerhockey
Books
Quotable Posts
Stopping
Skating Backwards
Skating Downhill
Grinding
Vert/Jumps
Slaloms
Figure Skating
Racing
Buying Guide
Essential Gear
Used Skates Guide
Kids Skates Guide
Buying Women's Skates
Manufacturers
Where to Buy
Skate Reviews
Other Reviews
Search Western
California
Central
Northeast
Southeast
Abroad
Jumping
Backwards stair-riding
T-stop
Power slide
Movies

Copyright © 1996-2009 Anthony D. Chen, adchen@skatefaq.com

Serving the inline skating community since 1991

Online Privacy Policy