How to: Mastering Disney World in 2021 โ€“ Part 3
I will give recommendations on which rides to head to first...
This is the third blog in my series on Mastering Disney World in 2021. The first blog talked about planning for the trip and the second was all about food. This blog will give you all of my best tips and tricks to get the most out of your time at Walt Disney World Resort. I will give recommendations on which rides to head to first, a list of our favorites, and any other thoughts I have on each park.

Spending Time in the Parks

The first thing to do is double check your park day passes and compare them to the time schedules for each park. They have staggered openings to help thin the crowds for buses in the morning at the resorts. Plan to head to the transportation line at least an hour before the park opens. Check with the resort if you want to know the exact time that they start letting people in.
Once you get to the park, you will need to get your temperature checked, scan your wristband, and go through security. I recommend checking out the rides at each park and making a list of what is most important to you. This way you can plan what rides you want to head to before the lines get too long.
Take out things like glasses cases and metal containers from your bags if you want to avoid having your bags checked when you get to the park. This will save you time and allow you to get to the rides faster.
Pro Tip

Magic Kingdom

A day spent at Magic Kingdom is beyond magical. When you first enter the park (if you arrive at or before opening), you will be greeted by Mickey and his friends as they do a song and dance. Although it may be tempting to stop and watch the performance, if you have plans for big rides, then I suggest snapping a quick photo and moving on. We know that Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain get long, fast. Big Thunder Mountain opens their ride prior to Splash Mountain, so that is the first ride we booked it to when we got to the park.

Morning Greeting
A day spent at Magic Kingdom is beyond magical. When you first enter the park (if you arrive at or before opening), you will be greeted by Mickey and his friends as they do a song and dance. Although it may be tempting to stop and watch the performance, if you have plans for big rides, then I suggest snapping a quick photo and moving on. We know that Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain get long, fast. Big Thunder Mountain opens their ride prior to Splash Mountain, so that is the first ride we booked it to when we got to the park.
We knew we were not going to ride Space Mountain (it is way too fast, dark, and jerky for my daughter) or Seven Dwarf Mine Train (it is not very accommodating for plus size individuals, and my daughter would not have enjoyed it based on her reaction to Big Thunder Mountain). However, if you plan to ride either of these, you will want to work them into your day at some point.
Here is the order of rides that worked best for us:
  • Big Thunder Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
    (We did not end up riding this because my daughter got scared on Big Thunder Mountain, but if you want to ride it, this is the best time to do so. The line will only get longer as the day gets hotter)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Aladdin's Magic Carpet
    (We were able to ride this 2 times in a row with very little wait time and my daughter LOVED it)
  • Peter Pan's Flight
    (Note: we chose not to ride It's a Small World this time because we rode it last time, but these two rides typically have similar wait times and are directly across from one another. Additionally, Prince Charming's Regal Carousel always had over an hour wait, which is crazy for a carousel, in my opinion, so we skipped it - but it is right here as well, if you want to ride it)
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
    (Note: the Mad Tea Party (tea cup ride) was closed when we were there, so we did not get to ride it - and that is TOTALLY fine with me!)
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
    (My daughter is REALLY good at this shooting game ride - I am NOT)
  • Carousel of Progress
    (This is great to ride as the day gets hotter because you get to spend 20 minutes sitting down, indoors, learning about the history of technology [or taking a nap])
    (Note: TomorrowLand Transit Authority PeopleMover was closed when were were there, but it is really cool if you get a chance to ride it!)
  • Mickey's PhilharMagic Concert
    (We rode this after our 2 p.m. reservation at Cinderella's Royal Table - so it was nice to sit down and relax for a little bit in the cool air after eating)
  • Ariel's Grotto
    (My daughter LOVED this and we were able to ride it twice without a wait)
  • Haunted Mansion
    (We were able to literally walk onto this ride. It usually has a long wait, but as the day was getting closer to the end, everyone headed for the big rides like Splash Mountain [70+ minute wait])
  • Aladdin's Magic Carpet
    (Yes, we liked it enough to ride it a 3rd time with NO wait!)
  • Jungle Cruise
    (Earlier in the day, the line for this was long as everyone worked their way from Big Thunder Mountain to Splash Mountain to Pirates, etc. ... But we rode it as our very last ride when the park was closing, and we had a short wait and it was really cool to ride after dark!)
Pirates of the Caribbean
Buzz
Buzz2
HM
Haunted Mansion

Hollywood Studios

The first thing you need to consider with Hollywood Studios is whether or not you want to try to get in the virtual line for Rise of the Resistance or not. Check out my Pro Tip on getting into the virtual line for this ride. We are NOT Star Wars fans, but my sister rode it previously and really liked it. So, we decided to try to get tickets. We were able to grab them at the 7 a.m. drop time.
Slinky Dog
Rise of the Resistance
You need to have your entire party up and on their phones in their Disney experience app prior to 7 a.m. Some people should be on WiFi and some using mobile data (we have found that mobile data works best). Right at 7, everyone should try to check in for the virtual line. Don't pay attention to what party members are listed, just hit submit as fast as you can because the spots go instantly.
We learned first hand that if one of your party members does not make it into the virtual line, talk to a cast member at the start of the line and they can get everything squared away.
Pro Tip
If you want to ride Slinky Dog, it would be wise to head that direction as soon as you get to the park. On the other hand, if Tower of Terror is your top priority, that might be a good line to head to first. Most of the rides at Hollywood Studios are popular, so you should expect that there will be lines. Luckily, with the way things are spaced out for social distancing, you always feel like you are moving and it tricks your brain into thinking it is taking less time. Another thing to keep in mind is that the lines at Hollywood Studios are mostly outdoors with very little shade. Be sure to drink plenty of water and use lots of sunscreen.
Here is my list of rides:
  • Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway (My daughter loved this and we rode it twice)
  • Slinky Dog
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Take advantage of the relaxation station located at the Indiana Jones attraction
  • Rise of the Resistance
  • Frozen Ever After Sing-A-Long
  • Tower of Terror

Animal Kingdom

It had been a long time since we had been to Animal Kingdom, so this was a fairly new experience for me. Unfortunately, one of the main rides we wanted to go on, Kali River Rapids, was closed while we were there. Additionally, my daughter was too short to ride on Avatar Flight of Passage. If you plan to ride that, you will want to head there first thing as the line gets long quickly. My daughter was also too short to ride Expedition Everest, so we did not go into the Asia section of Animal Kingdom.
Here is what we did while at this park:
  • Na'vi River Journey (This is GORGEOUS!)
  • Kilamanjaro Safari (This is by far the best attraction, in my opinion)
  • TriceraTops Spin (This was my daughter's favorite - we rode it twice)
  • It's Tough to Be a Bug! (This is a 4D experience. My daughter HATED it and screamed/cried through the whole thing)
  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (This is a walking trail, so be prepared for whining from the kids if it is hot)
Animal Kingdom

Epcot

We did not go to Epcot this time, so I've asked my sister, Megan, to guest write this section.

I used to not like Epcot. But, then I went with my friend Amy, who knows how to do Epcot well. This park is different from the others in so many ways. It is less theme park and more culture based and is divided into two main sections. If you ride the Skyliner, you will enter the park in the middle of the World Showcase. This is the point from which I will start, just note that if you enter from the main entrance, the attractions on that side of the park might be better to begin the day. Epcot is also majorly about the food in the World Showcase, so be sure to plan enough time to sample as you go.

  • Frozen Ever After (Located in Norway--so cute, but the line will always be long)
  • Three Caballeros (Located in Mexico)
  • Soarin' Around the World (This ride is amazing! You feel like you are flying, seeing all the sights, and smelling all the smells!)
  • Living with the Land (In the same building as Soarin'. You get to see a BTS look at Disney's sustainability efforts in this easy boat ride).
  • Finding Nemo (A cute, slow ride through the story of Nemo. The building usually also houses a funny show with Crush--but that is not available currently.)
  • Spaceship Earth (This is the big ball that Epcot is known for.)
  • Test Track (If you enter from the main entrance you may want to do this first. The line will always be long.)
  • World Showcase (At some point, make sure you go through the countries. We went when they were having special food experiences, so we stopped at the booths set up as we went. Just grabbing something small from several booths was enough.)
  • China and Canada have 360* shows. If you get motion sick, this may make you a bit uneasy. You stand in the center of screens that show various aspects of the country.
  • France (Be sure to check out Beauty and the Beast! It is a fun twist on the classic movie--and a nice break to sit down in the AC.)

One Last Tip

I just wanted to share one last tip with you:
Always be on the lookout for cavalcades. Now that Disney does not have parades or character meet and greets, this is one of the only ways to spy your favorite characters. Luckily, we were able to catch a couple at Magic Kingdom and one "floatilla" at Animal Kingdom.
Mastering Walt Disney World in 2021 ride edition. Family vacation.
Mastering Walt Disney WOrld in 2021 ride edition

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