✩ Disney World News and Information


  • At a serious newspaper, you can’t expect to read front page news about a new theme park roller coaster. But you might expect the downfall of the highest Disney executive to get major attention.

    But which would you read?

    The coaster news, sure.

    And not the fate of someone more remote to you.

    As you probably know, COO is Chief Operating Officer.

    And the major (read: important) news was about him: Tom Staggs.

    But surely you were more interested in the newest roller coaster now operating with a definite date for climbing aboard.

    Understandable.

    So the more serious personnel move at Disney at the same time?

    What does it mean?

    But more relevant:

    Does it matter to you who is COO or not?

    We think it does matter to you. And we’ll tell you why.

    One reason is your last experience buying Disney World Orlando tickets.

    Even if you were able to score Disney World Tickets at discounted prices, was it an enjoyable experience? (We hope so, but if not, it was not typical…or at least we hope not).

    So if you just give this a few seconds of thought, who the chief Indian at Disney or elsewhere is important.

    Why the boss counts

    Tom Staggs is an important part of why you go there, and why you come back.

    Because you had a good time.

    Hardly an accident.

    The Wall Street Journal, perhaps the most serious of all US newspapers outside of The New York Times, said this about COO Tom Staggs.

    “Succession planning at the world’s largest media company fell into disarray Monday as chief operating officer Tom Staggs, the presumed successor to Chief Executive Offer Robert Iger, unexpectedly said he would step down.”

    This is not something you keep in mind on a daily basis such as a look outside to check on whether you need an umbrella because it looks like rain….but Disney is not just a theme park in Orlando…and sponsor of a lot of movies.

    It is the “world’s largest media company.”

    The media cares and so should you

    So it demands some attention.

    And the Disney COO story…whatever a COO is or is not…is regarded as big news everywhere.

    “The news sent shock waves through the entertainment industry,” reported The Orlando Sentinel.

    It also came after more upsetting news not only for casual visitors but also for diehard fans. Or just about everyone.

    Despite record attendance and rising Disney Orlando ticket prices here and elsewhere, Disney has announced various cutbacks.

    That includes reduced operating times and shorter hours for cast members. Some layoffs, such as 100 painters.

    Disney explains this in typical sunny terms as refining operations for more efficiency “while delivering an experience that exceeds the evolving expectations of our guests.”

    But others see it as simple, perhaps cheap-minded cost cutting.

    It appears that there's "a significant initiative underway to see where they can reduce costs in the parks," said Bob Boyd, a leisure analyst with Pacific Asset Management.

    Typical of any company…but Disney?

    Upset Disney fans blog about it

    This certainly did not please everyone, as seen by negative bloggers.

    At the same time, the smaller news was about its far more minor competitor, SeaWorld Orlando.

    It opened a preview of “Mako,” destined to be the tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster in Orlando.

    Speeds up to 73 miles an hour.

    You can ride it June 10.

    In the meantime, there’s a showing of what it will do inside the park’s Nautilus Theatre.

    Twice a day. With free snacks.

    And tickets and other prizes in a raffle.

    So why is there so much attention to COO Tom Staggs?

    “There's going to be an empty throne in the Magic Kingdom two years from now—and it's suddenly far from clear who will fill it,” said a report from Newser.

    This all made us curious, and maybe you too, as to what Tom Staggs did there. And why he was leaving.

    And still the biggest question for most of us:

    Impact on you

    Does this matter to us? Or the park-goers of all types?

    Really, the move means the world’s largest media company: needs a new boss.

    One candidate is Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook.

    It would be a joke for almost anyone we know, and you as well, to send in a resume to apply for the job.

    But considering it pays several million dollars a year…Staggs’ starting salary alone was $2 million a year…and pays much more in both money and power…you might want to understand the position.

    First, what in the world is a COO?

    Yes, everyone knows it is a high level position.

    Boss, of course.

    But what does a COO do that is different, say, from a CEO (Chief Operating Officer) or simply a President or CFO (Chief Financial Officer)?

    You probably think you know what that is. But probably you don’t really

    And we were not sure until we checked.

    Chief operating officers are “oftentimes unsung heroes,” was one Internet description.

    Accenture called the COO “one of the least understood roles in business today.”

    Simply put, the COO us the highest-ranking executive within a company.

    So could you someday become one, if you had the necessary background and education and experience?

    Why not?

    A study showed most of them had college degrees, often advanced degrees. Master’s or MA’s, or even doctorates.

    Apple’s Jobs was one

    But Steve Jobs was a COO.

    So was Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

    And guess their educational level?

    They not only did not have impressive degrees, but lacked much of any strong formal educational backgrounds.

    So that is encouraging.

    COO’s as bosses help companies make better products or provide better services.

    That is the simplest and most direct explanation of what they do. Or try to do.

    That means they create short-term and long-term goals.

    Easy enough. At least it sounds that way.

    That brings us to Walt Disney, of course.

    Not so easy when it comes to Disney.

    But at the same time, easy enough.

    Walt started it all. And the tradition continues.

    We say this because the “happiest place on Earth” has both a simple goal and a tough one at the same time.

    Think of all the companies and places where you do business that disappoint out.

    That’s generally because they don’t care about you.

    And you know it.

    What Disney does to guests

    You don’t have to be special at Disney to be special.

    They try to treat everyone as special.

    Not that they always succeed.

    But they do more times than not.

    They succeed far more than they fail.

    Unlike some businesses that seem to want their people to avoid customers, Disney does the opposite.

    Cast members make everyone of us feel important.

    You know all the small ways they make you welcome.

    What Disney does routinely, every day, is give you a huge welcome.

    Not just the squeaky clean parks, either.

    No overflowing trash cans.

    Small touches.

    But everywhere.

    The streets are cleaned at night. After everyone leaves.

    We take all this for granted. But it is done by design.

    By an effort.

    A huge effort

    Managers are trained to make sure custodians are far from the only ones concerned about cleanliness. Neatness is everyone’s business.

    Some call it “show ready.”

    Just one example of that: When is the last time you found a ride or show that did not run on time?

    If you did, rarely, you found the reason.

    Cast members communicated.

    It’s not highly unusual at all for cast members to know the schedule of a nearby show but the times for another one in a far-off area of the park.

    Most people in service positions have simple training.

    They are trained to take your money.

    Period.

    Which is the exact opposite of the Disney customer service experience.

    We could go on about this at far more length, but it’s all part of the Disney experience.

    So it all comes down to the COO.

    That person who follows Walt’s vision of a perfect park…or as perfect as anyone can do it.

    So how did Staggs handle the position?

    And maybe…just maybe…and out of simple curiosity…how would your own personality have stacked up with his? Could you have at least the potential to do it yourself?

    You almost certainly aren’t as old as Staggs. And equally don’t have his years of experience.

    Start out with modesty

    But a good start for you would be a modest manner. And having an attitude of keeping a low profile.

    Those were attributes universally attributed to Staggs.

    Being receptive and comfortable with Disney cast members also helps. Employees routinely described Stagg as “warm.”

    As COO, Staggs had not only theme parks to oversee but also such areas as the Disney cruise line of three ships, the vacation ownership program, and Disney’s themed resort in Oahu.

    But he was seen as particularly effective in handling a global workforce of 130,000 employees spread across six theme parks. Including the one built in Shanghai, which may have played a role in his leaving.

    “It’s a job that requires gut instincts on what consumers will respond to, and meticulous attention to detail on all aspects of the guest experience,” noted a story on Staggs in Variety.

    Disney parks are generally viewed by the public as Disney’s brand. That’s often an advantage but can also be a problem if expectations are not met.

    Cast members liked him

    Profiles of Staggs’ track record at the parks and resorts unit have been mostly strong from the media.

    He inherited many initiatives by his predecessors such as the “My Magic Plus” that have been regarded as big successes.

    A big plus for him was his relationship with the legions of cast members.

    Only one example of his popularity was obvious when he surprised members by making an unplanned appearance at a Disney event to praise Imagineer Tony Baxter.

    The audience loved his showing appreciation for Baxter’s efforts by dedicating a window along Main Street to him.

    Staggs seemed like “just another cast member.”

    At the 2011 opening of the revamped “Star Tours” ride at Disneyland, Staggs, cloaked as a Jedi knight, engaged in a strenuous light saber battle with Darth Vader.

    He then cut the ribbon with a light saber.

    Staggs himself has said he made an effort to keep involved with everyday Disney cast members. That is a somewhat unusual move in the entertainment industry.

    In 2012, while accepting the Distinguished Alumni Award from Minnetonka High School, Staggs noted that showbiz was “the most self-congratulatory industry there is on the planet.”

    He jokingly and he jokingly told the crowd that in his then-22 years in entertainment, he’d never accepted an award at a major awards show such as the Oscars, Emmys or Grammys.

    He was more than liked

    Staggs would fit a character out of a Disney movie.

    He grew up in the small town of Excelsior, Minn., about a half-hour outside of Minneapolis.

    He’s been married to his wife, Melanie, for over two decades, and is the father of three boys.

    “I don’t get caught up in all the Hollywood glitz and glamour,” Staggs said.

    Staggs earned a B.S. in business from the University of Minnesota in 1982 and went on to get his MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

    He worked in investment banking at Minneapolis’ Dain Bosworth and for Morgan Stanley before joining Disney. That was in 1990 as manager of strategic planning.

    “He’s a very good dealmaker. He’s smart as hell and he is very personable — that’s a good combination,” former Disney CEO Michael Eisner said of him.

    Staggs was promoted to COO after heading up the Disney Parks and Resorts unit (and overseeing the Shanghai Disney resort).

    To be a top leader often takes years of experience

    Prior to that, he spent 12 years as the company’s chief financial officer

    He consistently earned praise from major publications for his handling of the company's finances, earning Institutional Investor magazine's billing as its top CFO in the entertainment industry on several occasions.

    “During his 26 years at the company, (he was) was well-regarded but had little experience in the company's creative operations like film and television,” one profile said.

    Staggs was described by other Disney people with the almost infamous cliché:

    “He’s a good team player.”

    So where did he go wrong?

    Many commentators praised him not only for his financial capabilities -- including openness about Disney dealings -- but also for his clear people skills to handle the job.

    But the questions that often came up were about something else.

    Where was the vision?

    His strategic vision of where to take Disney in the future.

    But any vision concept has to be linked with the Shanghai park, which has been confronted several delays in opening.

    The importance of that is the future of Disney rides high in China.

    It could be a huge popular and financial success.

    But it also is a potential problem to deal with the Chinese government and local investors.

    As Disney learned the hard way during his 1992 launch of Euro Disney or now Disneyland Paris, local tastes can be finicky.

    The new park will woo middle class guests, who may be far more common in western theme parks than in Communist-ruled China.

    Disney commentators in the wake of Staggs leaving generally said no specific project or failure prompted the sudden move.

    New directions at Disney?

    Disney might want someone more experienced in the film and television side of the business, or technology, said other analysts quoted in The Orlando Sentinel.

    “Disney is a complex business that includes theme parks, cable, broadcast, studio entertainment, consumer products and interactive media. Its challenges lately have included ESPN, which has lost subscribers as consumers have been canceling cable-TV subscriptions,” the newspaper wrote.

    Speculation was that Disney wanted longer term thinking of what the company should be, and where it was heading in the future.

    So whoever eventually is named to take over, and while it won’t be you or anyone we know, we can only wish them the best.

    And this advice:

    Good luck on a tough job….

    …because it’s never easy to follow Walt. ###

    You’re probably not surprised that a ride on Space Mountain at Walt Disney World Resort lasts only two minutes and 30 seconds. But the wait to get on it…

    …That takes about two hours.

    Of course, we exaggerate.

    Grossly.

    But if there is one thing that theme park visitors hate, it is waiting in lines.

    So what can you do but wait?

    That’s why it’s called waiting. Right?

    Or maybe you call in queueing.

    Whatever you call it, not pleasant. Not something you want to do.

    Let’s take a good look at the subject of waiting. But far more important:

    See what you can do about it.

    Theme parks realize that guests hate waiting.

    So they offer things like

    Universal’s Express Pass and Disney’s FastPass+ and other alternatives.

    These do cut back waiting times. But it does not eliminate them.

    And it all costs extra.

    So there are expensive options.

    If you can afford them, fine.

    But let’s see what else you can do. Without those costly options.

    First or number one:

    Buying your Disney World tickets ahead of time

    Buy your Universal Studios Orlando tickets or Disney tickets or LEGOLAND tickets…or any other theme park tickets….online.

    That way you immediately skip one line: to buy your tickets.

    Well, sure, that is simple.

    But you probably have no idea how many visitors start their stay by standing in line, say, to buy Busch Gardens Tampa tickets (no, we don’t know that number of stand-in-line people, either, but it is obviously a big one).

    What we’re going to do today is look at your other choices of things you can do before going to the park…how to reduce your time waiting in lines while here…and things you can do to make the waiting easier to stomach.

    But even before we get into more ways of cutting back or finding creative (yes, we said the word “creative” and it does apply at times to waiting lines), we need to take a closer look at the subject.

    In looking at lines, we all know this is a world of instant gratification. Or at least that is what we all want (and Disney and other theme parks know it just as well, and cater to it by trying to cut back those lines).

    Why you hate waiting in line

    If you wonder why you hate the lines, there are many reasons such as a waste of time. But perhaps the best one comes from a renowned psychologist, Dr. Richard Larson, who says you hate it because:

    It is involuntary imprisonment.

    Simple as that (but that should help explain why we all hate it so much).

    But Larson says no one does a better job of managing long lines than…guess who….Disney.

    Let’s take a small and short detour here regarding Larson, an MIT engineering professor. All you really need to know about him is that his nickname is “Dr. Queue.”

    Oh, one other thing:

    His own experience getting stuck in lines prompted him (yes, lines also prompt creativity and sometimes positive results) to study the subject. And to look for improved experiences.

    Studying lines is not new, of course.

    Way back in the 1950s, the subject came up with the subject of waiting for elevators. But 1955 was also the opening of Disneyland.

    There’s an art to it

    The later mastered the art of standing in line…yes, it’s called that…and if you don’t believe us, that is what Larson said:

    "The best scientist and engineers of line management in the world," he termed it.

    Disney has introduced many waiting in line innovations. As simple as theme elements as you wait in line…walls in waiting lines that can be coded for meanings…and pre-show films, of course.

    Part of the problem with lines, of course, is your attitude. Yes, you.

    Most of us, including you, expect lines at the check-out counters of your favorite food stores. But you the consumer has to be there to buy life essentials. No choice.

    But going to a theme park is fun. A pleasant experience. So you see lines there in a different light, Larson points out.

    You’re not at the food stores now, but the happiest place on earth.
    And you’re standing in a line. A long line.

    What’s to be happy about?

    Larson and others say your attitude can help.

    Attitudes do count

    They suggest making it positive.

    Consider that those long lines help make theme parks able to offer you the entertainment you want. Without that popularity, you would not be able to be here. Simple as that.

    Tell yourself also the line is short. It will be over soon.

    All this attitude adjustment has a positive purpose: It will help reduce your time-slowing anxiety over the line.

    So now you’re ready for some practical advice.

    What to do even before getting to the park:

    Do your research ahead of time (Oh my God, you might be thinking, no, not again…This advice applies to so much of going to theme parks, you may be tired of hearing it….and what fun is this, anyway?).

    Maybe it’s not a lot of fun but it can be. Remember the right attitude?

    Before you go, why not check on wait lines for the very special rides you want to see first?

    If for no other reason, you might decide one ride or another could be eliminated because the lines are just too long.

    This should also help you narrow down your list of top activities.

    Now you’re in line.

    So what do you do to pass the time?

    Apps are one answer

    You probably already know many of these but just in case…and as a reminder…games come in handy. A good variety of them.

    Get them ready before you arrive, of course.

    Remember that they can drain your battery quickly, as you know. So be on the lookout for power outlets.

    You left your Netflix at home? So watch some other movies that you have already downloaded.

    Games, movies help pass the time quickly

    Or episodes of “Orange is the New Black” (talk about being in prison…this Netflix series about a woman serving jail time will really help you put your wait time in perspective).

    There are also services such as Digiboo that lets you quickly rent movies and other events.

    Podcasts have taken off. So subscribe to the ones that fit your tastes. Any good podcasting app will let you download many of them.

    Books and magazines.

    Also helpful.

    Put some books on apps so they’re ready when you are.

    Most magazines also offer ways of reading content. Maybe find some articles on “The Art of Waiting.”
    Self-improvement. What better use of your time than studying a new language.

    (In light of immigration trends and demographics, Spanish is popular these days).

    You may never use it but even learning basic phrases may not only come in handy in the US but also if you end up in a foreign country (you never know when some seemingly unnecessary skill you learned today will be handy tomorrow).

    Some more considerations when thinking of your trip:

    Try to go when others don’t.

    What that means

    For theme parks, this usually means when schools are in session. Weekdays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are usually less crowded than weekends.

    Some special events like Father’s Day are often less congested.

    Super Bowl Sunday is even better.

    Arrive early or late.

    Get there an hour early, walk in the minute it opens, and hit the coasters and other popular rides first.

    At Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park, every minute you arrive after the park opens is two extra minutes of waiting in line

    That’s when most people go.

    Skip special events.

    Disney’s late night fireworks are great, and worth seeing, but it’s also a good time to avoid lines.

    Be sure to go on rainy days.

    Studies show that crowds disperse under gray skies that bring rain. Aha!

    What some of them don’t know and you do… is that short rains are often seasonal in many theme park locations (Orlando and California as well).

    The sunshine comes back quickly.

    And so do your dry clothes.

    But do bring an umbrella.

    Tips on rides

    When you get there, get in the single rider line. No, you can’t always find one.

    But if you see one ahead, don’t be afraid to split up your group (and don’t demand to sit together).

    This can speed you along a lot or rides a lot quicker. Some estimates are that this saves up to one third of waiting time.

    Go to your priority rides first (remember? You have pre-planned them, so you know where to go).

    That way, you will have finished or at least gotten to ride on your favorites.

    Eat lunch and dinner early or late.

    And take a break in the afternoons when crowds are often the worst. Come back in the evenings.

    Don’t do what everyone else does

    Just about everyone wants to go on the thrill rides such as the roller coasters.

    Typically, those are often located on the left side of the park. They’re also in many cases at the rear of the park.

    So don’t start at the beginning of the park. Go to the end and work backwards.

    Break up ride lines by going to shows. Trust us, it will make waiting easier.

    Ditto short breaks. If you can, leave the park a while for breaks.

    That will also help reduce that feeling of always waiting in lines. Psychologically, at least.

    If you are willing to pay extra for parking, exit the park at about lunchtime and stay for a few hours in your hotel room or just take a rest somewhere.

    Here’s another trip not always known:

    Events that require separate admission, such as “Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party,” are likely to have shorter lines, even on weekday nights.

    Events that require separate admission, such as Mickey's party, often require added costs. But it is often worth it to avoid the crowds. That’s a decision you’ll have to make.

    But a hint of how we feel: Just how much is your time worth?

    Some lines are also not to be feared.

    When it comes to lines, don’t always be afraid

    PS: Always keep in mind lines aren’t always what they seem to be.

    A good example is roller coaster lines.

    Always long.

    But many riders get discouraged. So don’t be one of them. Ride it out. Or wait it out is usually good advice here

    So what if you are in a long line?

    What do we do now?

    Why not interact with those in your group or better yet: others around you.

    Non-family or friends around you have something in common with you: theme parks. No problem starting conversations with them no matter how reluctant you are to approach someone.

    Just ask about their experiences here or favorite rides or anything connected to the parks.

    A possible game while waiting is to imagine where ling-goers are from. Get your group to play guessing games. Then ask the person near you (who knows? This might even lead to new friends).

    You can obviously play other non-tech games. One popular one is the old scissors, rock and paper. If you don’t know to play it, ask some older people about the “rules.”

    Other ways to keep amused:

    Shoot photos of people in line or whatever captures your interest.

    Trade jokes. Old-fashioned, sure, but not something you do every day.

    Just accept it.

    What else can you do?

    Make up your own games. Use your imagination.

    Here’s something to think about while you do that:

    After waiting, say, an hour for a two minute ride, you will probably enjoy it more than ever.

    Didn’t think of that, did you?

    A scientific study in a medical journal a few years ago found that waiting in lines adds value or makes us enjoy it more than if we had instant gratification. ###

    We don’t know what Walt would have thought of Disney’s newly introduced and controversial “value” pricing. But a couple or other well-known figures had some thoughts on it.

    Well, one of them was not so well known…unless you are a fan of baseball, which not so long ago started another new season.

    He was baseball’s Hall of Famer “Wee Willie Keeler.”

    His career batting average of almost .400 was one of the most amazing in history (yes, if you’re not a baseball follower, that means he was successful at hitting less than four times out of ten, which is a number astonishing only in that sport).

    The secret of his success:

    “Hit ‘em where they ain’t,” Wee Willie (so named because he was barely taller than five feet) told reporters.

    The other historical American figure was known by all of us: the founding father and beloved Ben Franklin.

    The American patriot-inventor and provider of practical good-living advice is credited with the phrase:

    “Time is money.”

    These two pieces of everyday advice are relevant these days.

    Wee Willie was born in the 1870s and died in 1923.

    At that time, Walt Disney was only 22 years old (he died in 1965).

    While Walt was not known to be a huge baseball fan, he was a student of history. And not only knew of Franklin, but followed some of his practical advice in many ways during his lifetime.

    Sorry to make you wait so long…but this has a point for you.

    As you should have guessed by now, this all has to do with Disney… where a new pricing practice introduced this week aroused some shrieks of protest.

    Shrieks, yes.

    Four ball, indeed.

    New tiered pricing raises howls of protest

    The reason: higher prices.

    In general.

    And some more pricing complications.

    It’s known as “tiered” or “peak” pricing or “value pricing.” Applicable during busier times.

    It means single-day Disney tickets for the Magic Kingdom shot up to $124 from $105 on the park's busiest days.

    That generally means Spring Break and the weeks closest to Christmas….but other times as well.

    And Disney raised the prices of its multi-day tickets by up to 10 percent.

    Universal, which already raised prices this year, is sure to follow eventually.

    “It always does,” commented an Orlando Sentinel newspaper columnist.

    It’s not a simple price structure like it is to pay $19.95 plus tax for that coffee maker at Sears or a mall store.

    You have to figure out Disney ticket prices.

    When to go when you get the cheapest cost for your own particular group. Requires some thinking.

    But at its most basic… the pricing structure is this:

    You will pay the lower park price during slow times, and vice versa: higher when everyone else wants to go there.

    Airlines and others moving towards this type of pricing

    It’s similar to the airlines and other industries these days.

    Where if you travel when others are not, you get a concrete dollar reward:

    Lower prices.

    “Hit it where they ain’t,” in other words.

    So to meet the complaints and confusion, many sites are now scrambling to come up with new ways of saving money when you buy Disney World tickets.

    But buying your Disney tickets is only part of the overall price, of course.

    There are also hotels or other lodging, usually the second most expensive part of a trip here. And meals (seldom or should we be really honest, never cheap).

    And there are the expenses of actually getting here, as well as transportation costs while here (rental cars, etc.).

    So Disney Orlando tickets are just one part of your cost.

    And it gets harder and harder to save money on Universal Studios tickets, LEGOLAND tickets, Busch Gardens Tampa tickets, etc.

    As a matter of fact, other theme parks are expected to follow Disney’s ticket lead, as reported in the local newspaper.

    So now expect to get a lot of new and (hopefully more timely) advice on how to save money on Disney tickets and other expenses, etc.

    But not here.

    What we are going to tell you today are not money saving suggestions. But instead, time savers (remember Ben and “time is money?”).

    And while these suggestions are for saving time, most will also save you money.

    And many also apply not only to Disney but also to Universal Studios (discount) tickets as well.

    For purposes of this article, we’re going to skip FastPasses.

    There are almost as complicated as the new value pricing structure. And there are many variables.

    These all depend on individual situations.

    So we’re going to leave them out here, but instead focus on some main areas of time-saving such as proper pre-park preparations, transportation, and other areas.

    How to choose when to visit

    When choosing your visit times, choose wisely.

    Yes, it requires some more effort. Much more than it used to.

    But it all pays off if you actually study it.

    If lower Disney ticket or admission prices are your main concern, then consult the Disney cost structure and the calendar. Choose those dates that work best for you.

    But the very first thing you should do when deciding to visit, whether this is your first time or your 40th, is do a very different study:

    What to do well before you get here.

    Please, we urge everyone to forget this “go with the flow” philosophy that says you’ll decide what to do when you get here.

    This is obvious but sometimes forgotten.

    Remember you are spending time just as you spend money in Orlando. The two go together.

    So get your group together to decide on what are your own individual priorities among the many places to go.

    This means not just buying Disney or Universal tickets, but also looking at other options of what to do when you’re here.

    No one…and we repeat….no one…can spend all their time at Disney…

    Or at least the vast majority of us, anyway.

    You will have to make these choices anyway because…

    …Even if you had weeks and months instead of just days to visit, you could not ride or see everything.

    Do your online research.

    And that’s why we say decide with your group what do to before arrival.

    Communicate with them beforehand.

    Actually, this is a very pleasant job when you think about it.

    You can have a lot of fun anticipating what you will do…before you even get here...

    What to do when you arrive here

    Snap a picture of your parked cars. Does this sound simple?

    Of course, because it is.

    But lots of people can’t remember where they parked.

    Don’t be one of them.

    It’s frustrating and maddening to ask others for help in finding your car. And it’s a waste of your time.

    Valuable time, too.

    What to do about long lines

    They are there, of course.

    They’ll be there whenever you come.

    But you don’t want them.

    Sorry, no choice.

    But you do have the chance to cut back on waiting time.

    Most advice here:

    Run, don’t walk to get your FastPasses. They help.

    Whether it’s worth it to you?

    Your choice. You’re on your own here.

    We’ll assume you know how to use them to get the maximum benefit.

    So that will help you in your time management (though it admittedly will cost more).

    The real key is to avoid long lines and not waste your time: Come here when the kids are not visiting. The times when they are in school.

    Think major holidays and peak summer seasons. Avoid them.

    Try going the week before major holidays, especially the week before Thanksgiving or before major holidays.

    One of your best bets is weekdays in early June, when there are plenty of college students already at work, but K-12 schools are still in session. (An added bonus: your price is less thanks to the new ticket structure).

    Another hack for skipping long lines

    Get in the single rider line, if you can.

    Many rides have one (not always well marked, so you’ll have to hunt at times for them).

    Estimates are you can save up to one third of your waiting time at these lines.

    Still another hack

    Start your day out early. You can’t get there too early.

    An hour or two before the park’s opening works.

    Yes, you will have to wait. So amuse yourself with your phone, or talk to members of your group (see this as rare chance to socialize and actually communicate with others).

    This gives you the best chance to get on as many rides as possible.

    Most people do not this but arrive at more leisurely times, after breakfast, say, or even 9 or10 a.m. (So again, thanks to Wee Willie and hitting the ball where no one is there to catch it).

    Next: after congratulating yourself on this successful early morning mission, have a strategy of going to the most popular rides first.

    A simple philosophy (and far easier than figuring out the right day for the least expensive price).

    No rain delays here

    Also, when you wake up in the morning and it’s raining, go to Disney or a theme park, anyway.

    It only takes a few showers (which there are a lot of short ones around here) for lot of would-be visitors to stay home or visit the local Altamonte Springs Mall or seek out indoor exhibits at the Orlando Science Center.

    We mentioned plan ahead, didn’t we?

    Be prepared in other ways.

    Why should you bring your own food and drinks?

    Everyone says this is a way to save money.

    But it’s also faster.

    Saves time.

    You avoid the crowds of people waiting in line to buy something quick or waiting for their reservation to be called at busy sit-down restaurants. Eating leisurely is fine but hardly the main reason to be here.

    Be prepared in other ways

    So buy an umbrella and rain gear like cheap ponchos (this is not baseball where there are rain delays. Only violent or really threatening weather leads to park closings).

    Pack your snacks, rain or possible chilly weather coats, water bottles, and perhaps Aspirin and vitamins and even bandages for blisters, and just about anything else you might need during the day.

    Bring a hat. Even if you don’t normally wear one.

    You might want it here because…it’s often hot.

    And it’s hotter when you’re standing in line under the blistering summer skies of Central Florida.

    And oh yes, sunscreen is as critical as your Disney ticket.

    Put all this in a backpack or purse or whatever you use to carry it.

    Believe us when we say there will come a time when you are grateful that you have brought along that Alka-Setzler and Aspirin tablet or two.

    And for God’s sakes, wear comfortable shoes.
    And clothing as well.

    This is not a fashion show. And few people will even notice how you dressed for your days at Disney.

    Getting around Disney…faster

    First-time visitors to Walt Disney World are sometimes surprised: getting around parks, hotels, etc., is not like a walk around Orlando’s famous Eola Park (less than one mile in distance).

    So you can use your own free transportation: walk.

    Or use Disney’s system. Free.

    Or use your rented or your own car (say you are a local).

    At times, walking is best.

    For example, if you’re at the Boardwalk and going to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can walk. It’s generally faster than the boats.

    Some buses are also somewhat less crowded than others. And at times, you are really better off with not one bus, but two of them.

    One good example is the Swan/Dolphin bus (which is often far less crowded with bus riders…apparently because fewer guests can afford the higher luxury end places to stay or most choose to use their cars? Who knows?)

    So some buses are better than others.

    Sometimes, if you rely on buses, you have to make changes. Say when going from one hotel to another or one land to another one.

    Also: face it, the buses often make stops other than the ones you want. Most serve several hotels, for example.

    No matter how you look at it, you might waste easily up to 30 minutes each time you take a Disney bus.

    So in the end, and this may cost you more…

    Driving your own car or a rental car is a faster and more flexible option.

    If you are really worried about cost, think of other ways to offset them by spending less on meals or other choices. Maybe you can use that vehicle to find a cheaper meal outside of the park, as another option.

    But most visitors will agree that at times, a higher cost is worth the convenience.

    And this is probably one of them.

    A few more quick hacks

    ---This is also something to do before you get here: Get maps. Don’t expect to memorize them. Print them.

    Give a copy to everyone in your party.

    ---Think tech. Planning a strategy for attractions is becoming easier with all of the newest technology that is available for theme parks, and other tourist attractions. Use those apps, etc., to improve your experience and maximize your time here.

    ---At the same time, schedule some breaks. Hey: they cost you little or no money. And they also increase your enjoyment of the experience.

    So what you need to know these days is how to understand the new pricing schedule, and what it means for your own visit.

    As for where Ben Franklin and Wee Willie can fit into this frame, their advice offers general guidelines as part of the bigger picture…even if you are not a baseball fan.###