Cinderella Castle

By now, it’s no secret that Disney has plans to upcharge even its most spendthrift customers. For a mere $12,000, up to six guests can embark on the 12-hour World of Dreams VIP Tour with two private guides and enjoy front-of-line privileges at all attractions, complimentary transportation, three table-service meals, reserved seats for shows and fireworks, limited backstage access, and a tour of the famously inaccessible Cinderella Castle Suite.

The $1,000 hourly fee also covers any additional experiences guests may wish to have, like one of the 18+ tours Disney currently offers. More customizable options may be available to visitors in the future, though the nature of those has yet to be specified. The only thing that isn’t covered? Park admission, naturally, as well as any park-hopping privileges guests may require over the course of the day. (On the plus side, any additional World of Dreams VIP tour days can be reserved for $10,000 a day, a $2,000-per-day “discount.”)

As ludicrous as it sounds (shelling out another $1,047 on top of a $12,000 service fee? Permission to enter the Cinderella Castle Suite, but no chance to host a sleepover? Only three meals?!), someone’s bound to take Disney up on the new offering sooner or later. For the rest of us, however—the 99% who don’t have Mary Poppins-esque wallets—that doesn’t necessarily mean these kinds of perks are off-limits. While creating your own VIP day at the parks may require a little more creativity and planning, it’s entirely doable. Here are a couple of tips to get you started.

The perk: Front-of-the-line access.

FastPass+ sign

Image: Theme Park Tourist, Flickr (license)

The moderate VIP option: Hire a plaid. Granted, we’re playing fast and loose with the word “moderate” here. Hiring a plaid (that is, a Disney VIP tour guide) will run you at least $3,000-4,400 for a seven-hour, ten-person day at the parks, and as with the World of Dreams tour, that doesn’t include park admission. Still, barring foul weather and ride breakdowns, it’ll get you and your party access to just about every attraction with minimal wait times and the ability to ride your favorites over and over again—without using up precious limited FastPass+ booking slots. And if you happen to be planning a trip with friends or family, you may even consider splitting the cost for a slightly more palatable $300-400 per person.

The affordable VIP option: Schedule rides during “non-peak” hours of the day. There’s no such thing as free-of-charge front-of-the-line access at the Disney Parks, nor does that appear to be one of the key upgrades Disney has in the works this year. Even so, there are several tried-and-true methods for cutting down long lines. The first is to stay on top of your FastPass+ reservation window. If you’ve vacationed at Walt Disney World in the past, you probably already know that it’s wise to book FastPasses as soon as they become available (180 days in advance for on-property guests, 60 days for non-property guests).

While that’s a crucial first step, you also need to be mindful of the time of day during which you’ve scheduled the bulk of your rides, shows, parades, and nighttime entertainment. Looking for the shortest lines possible? Plan on assembling your crew at the parks by rope drop and make sure you snag your FastPasses as close to park opening as you can. Once you’ve used your initial three bookings, you’ll be free to make additional reservations, and may be lucky enough to continue doing so throughout the day. If that sounds too hectic, consider jumping in line for the most popular attractions very early in the morning and/or very late at night, when crowds are at their thinnest. You may also have more luck planning a trip during the middle of the week rather than waiting until the parks hit capacity on the weekends, though that logic won’t necessarily hold true during the summer (especially with Galaxy’s Edge set to premiere at Disney's Hollywood Studios) or the fall and winter holidays.


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