By Nancy Schretter
Frozen has become the most popular animated film of all time and it’s now the fifth most popular movie ever. As a result, many family cruise vacationers are adding another “must do” activity to their list this year: meeting the Frozen princesses from Disney’s blockbuster film. It’s possible for cruising families to do, but meeting Anna and Elsa in person isn’t quite as simple as it sounds.
Right now, the demand for this experience is huge. Wait times for meeting Anna and Elsa in Disney’s Magic Kingdom can be as much as 4-5 hours long, even on a regular weekday. Avoiding these long waits can take some serious pre-planning. Disney just added some new evening hours for Anna and Elsa, so hopefully the wait times will improve.
Cruise passengers sailing from Port Canaveral often spend several days in the theme parks pre- or post-cruise. Some ships sailing along the Eastern Seaboard also call at Port Canaveral for one day. If you’re planning to make your kids’ Frozen dreams come true by meeting Anna and Elsa on your family’s next cruise, here are five tips to make the process as painless as possible.
1. Reserve your FastPass+ tickets far in advance.
Anna and Elsa meet Disney guests at Princess Fairytale Hall, located in the New Fantasyland area of the Magic Kingdom, every day between the hours of 9 a.m. to 30 minutes before closing each evening. Guests can book their FastPass+ reservations in advance for Princess Fairytale Hall, assuming that any guaranteed time slots are available. If you’re booked at a Walt Disney World hotel (or one that has Disney privileges) and have already purchased your theme park tickets in advance, you can book FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days in advance. Those who aren’t staying at a Disney hotel and have purchased park tickets in advance can book FastPass+ slots up to 30 days ahead of time. Time slots for each day become available at midnight, Eastern Time. They’re snapped up quickly, so be prompt. If you’ve tried getting FastPass+ reservations before, keep checking. If there aren’t any FastPass+ slots available, keep trying right up through the morning of your visit. Sometimes people’s plans change. If space for your whole family isn’t available, check for one or even two Fastpass+ reservations for your most avid Frozen fans.
2. Visit during the Magic Kingdom’s Extra Magic Hours.
Anna and Elsa meet guests early from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. during the Magic Kingdom’s Extra Magic Hours at least one day per week. This option is only available to those staying at a Walt Disney World hotel or one with Disney privileges, however. Before arriving at Walt Disney World, check the Walt Disney World calendar to find out which days the Magic Kingdom will be open for Extra Magic Hours. Get to the Magic Kingdom park entrance 45-60 minutes before the park opens at 8 a.m. for Extra Magic Hours. Then, walk straight to Princess Fairytale Hall and get in line.
3. Arrange for an early breakfast in the Magic Kingdom.
Advance Dining Reservations are available through the FastPass+ system. These early morning breakfast slots are very limited, so make your reservations as early as possible. Advance Dining Reservations can be booked as much as 180 days in advance of your visit. Make your reservations for a day when the Magic Kingdom is not open early for Extra Magic Hours. Booking an early breakfast will allow you to eat and quickly go to Princess Fairytale Hall to get in line just as or before the park opens. Breakfasts in the Magic Kingdom can be pricey, so make sure this option is worthwhile and within your budget. Character breakfasts are fun and it may be hard to rush through the experience to get to the princesses.
4. Get to the Magic Kingdom early.
There can easily be a one hour wait or more at Princess Fairytale Hall at 9 a.m. in the morning, so arriving early can make all the difference. Plan your visit on a day when the Magic Kingdom doesn’t have Extra Magic Hours in the morning. Make sure you’re there at least 45-60 minutes before the park opens, so that you can be one of the first people into the park. If getting up and organized that early is impossible for you to do, at least plan to get your spot in line as early as possible during the morning. The lines at Princess Fairytale Hall get longer as the day goes on. The princesses now have new evening hours availability, so things might be improving. Remember that Anna and Elsa depart promptly at 30 minutes before closing time each evening, so make sure to allow plenty of time for waiting in line.
5. Meet Anna and Elsa on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder.
Anna and Elsa from Frozen will be visiting both the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder ships for a limited time opportunity during the summer of 2014. Families will have the chance to meet Anna and Elsa several times during the cruise. The princesses will be meeting guests in front of a special “Arendelle” backdrop that’s picture perfect for photo opportunities. Cruising with Disney Cruise Line may be one of the most convenient options for meeting these popular princesses and making your kids’ Frozen dreams come true.
Additional views of Anna and Elsa also can be seen (but not met in person) during Walt Disney World’s Festival of Fantasy Parade. It takes place every day at 3 p.m. in the Magic Kingdom. This could be the easiest option to see Anna and Elsa for cruise passengers calling in Port Canaveral for only one day. Choice places for viewing the Festival of Fantasy Parade can be booked through FastPass+, but there are also a number of prime parade viewing spots available if you get to the route at least 30 minutes in advance.
Nancy Schretter is the Managing Editor of the Family Travel Network.
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