I have been touting the benefits of trekking the Walt Disney World Resort in the fall, but I have a few exceptions: Thanksgiving and the tail end of the first or second week of November.
You may be thinking, why avoid the first week of November – it’s still a good week for doing Disney. I’m talking about the four day weekend when schools close for a teachers’ convention in my birth state. Some of those families vacationing use those days, while others take the absentee risk and high-tail it to the Vacation Kingdom. They travel by car from their home turnpike to my home turnpike. They also fly from their airports in the chilly air to MCO in Orlando. But they have one purpose: to meet the Mouse.
The state in question is New Jersey, and the week is Jersey Week.
I neither mean to show New Jersey hatred nor bashing, but having been born and bred there myself (before moving in 1999), I went out of that state a couple of times for that said reason. I flew on an airplane from EWR (Newark Liberty International Airport) to MCO (Orlando International Airport) many times. Heck, I even survived a car trip with involved driving hundreds of miles on Interstate 95, former home state turnpike included. Although I had been to the World several times while living in New Jersey, I had never set foot there in the first few weeks of November.
But the painful part of Jersey Week is the actual convention dates and the weekend. Some visitors who visited at those times, New Jerseyans or not, reported moderate to even high (but not-so 4th of July, Christmas, or Easter high) crowds. Remember, huge crowds equal long lines for your favorite attractions! Gulp!
Some people convince you to take the week with a grain of salt, but I for one have better ideas:
Plan to go on a Monday-Wednesday of the week.
There will be some New Jerseyans visiting the parks, but I mostly guarantee that they won’t be as bad crowdwise as the four-day weekend.
Head to the parks at least a half-hour before opening, or a few hours before closing.
It will save you a lot of grief and time that could be wasted waiting in line!
Use the darn single-rider line wherever possible!
It can mean Cast Members ripping up your group one by one, but you’ll reunite after riding – I promise!
Head to the older attractions first.
I really don’t care how lame it looks or feels to you, but if you go to the less popular ones first, you’ll mostly face shorter lines.
Stagger time between rides with shows.
Whether it’s a lame song-and-dance, Broadway-style revue or a stunt show you want to see, this will help your feet a lot!
Remember: FASTPASS is your friend!
Go to the kiosks ahead of time, claim it, and return to your ride at the posted time.
If you have the money (if you are not staying in the middle of the magic via onsite resort hotels), take a darn break!
Have lunch in your room (or hotel restaurant, if money allows), swim, or kick back watching some soap opera. In the afternoon, head back to the parks. It’s also very useful for those with autism (especially children), since they must regroup from the overstimulation in the parks.
Ride at mealtimes.
It would do your sanity (and your stomach) good if you do the attractions when people are packing the restaurants, especially with thrill rides.
If your party doesn’t really mind, skip the parades and nighttime shows, if riding is an option.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. If your leader of the party requires everyone to see the parade, make sure that you and all others head at least an hour to your desired viewing spot. Oh, and deal with it, no matter how cheesy it seems.
Oh, and if you are caught in a long line that resembles a human rush hour on the human version of the New Jersey Turnpike (no offense to you, New Jerseyans), deal with it.
You know, I even waited on 80 to 90-minute lines, but I cope with it by taking pictures in the queue and interviewing people on their days in the parks. Find something that would help you pass away the time, like a handheld video game or even a cell phone chat. (It’s annoying, but it’s worth killing time!)
Sometimes, Jersey Week can be a crowdwise delight, but other times it’s a real pain in the apples. By following my advice, I’m sure you’ll survive the week when New Jersey folk go on Disney vacations.