What possessed me to try it?
Ok, so you might be judging us right now. Why would a couple who is concerned about their tight Disney budget spring $21.95 for an online service? Remember that we had already purchased Beth Haworth's Ultimate Disney World Savings Guide which saved us over $1400 in lodging. Well, online Disney experts really do give good money saving advice.
We decided to try it because $21.95 was only 1.5% of our budget. On Tour Guide Mike’s website he promises no long lines or huge crowds on your Disney Vacation.
We reasoned that if we could even save ourselves two hours of waiting in line, this service would pay for itself. That’s because our two hour cost of being in the park was more than $21.95.
You see, I’ve experienced the enormous-crush-all-hope-of-fun-again Disney lines. I’ve waited 90 minutes to ride Splash Mountain. It’s awful. And my husband has a hard time when he gets stuck in traffic. And he had never been to Disney World before. I knew my husband and long lines was not going to be a good combination on our Disney vacation.
So we bought it. My husband thought it was a bit silly but he humored me since I have some more Disney experience.
What we found on the site
Tour Guide Mike could have sold a book with all the information on his site. It can be a bit overwhelming. We’d recommend setting aside a morning or afternoon to sift through the different information. Here are some highlights of what we found.
General Park Strategies: Tour Guide Mike does a really great job setting up a framework for you to plan your vacation. It’s obvious he’s a pro at park touring because he incorporates firework shows, how tired you will be, and Florida heat into the mix.
Least Crowded Park Days: This is our most favorite feature of the site. This is also why Tour Guide Mike works a million times better than a book. You can find customized plans for when you will actually be at Disney. He updates them complete with park opening and closing times and lets you know when big parades and fireworks shows will happen. He also gives his reasoning for why the Magic Kingdom will be super crowded one day and not the next. This list was EXTREMELY helpful. You can bet we planned to go to the least crowded parks.
Sample Touring Plans: This is another section we found quite helpful. Mike put together touring plans for each park. Not only that, he has touring plans for thrill seekers, families with little guys, and adults who aren’t interested in thrillers. We wanted to go on all the thrillers, so we found a plan that fit perfectly for us.
Seating: Tour Guide Mike also has detailed reviews of EVERY attraction at Walt Disney World. Included in these reviews are where to sit. For example, Mike explains what to do if you don’t want to get wet on a ride or if you want to have the best view of the fireworks show.
That’s just a smattering of what Tour Guide Mike’s website offers. We felt like it was excellent preparation of what to expect in the parks from crowd levels to rides to food.
How we utilized it on our vacation
We printed out over 100 front and back pages of information from Tour Guide Mike. We were not expecting to have internet at Disney. So we had a rough idea of what we were doing on what days, but that was it.
The night before we went to a park, we set aside 30 minutes to review what we were going to do the next day. We looked at the sample touring plan that best fit us, read over the rides we wanted to ride and came up with an ordered list of how we would hit everything with minimal wait times.
Did it work?
ABSOLUTELY! Longest wait time was 15 minutes.
My husband was spoiled. After spending a successful morning at Hollywood Studios, we were walking out to get lunch. We walked by Toy Story Mania and the wait time was 80 minutes.
“Are people seriously waiting that long?!?!”
“Yes honey they are. That’s how most families experience Disney. My family did the same thing.”
“Wow. Tour Guide Mike is good!”
Tour Guide Mike. You rock!