Happy New Year, everybody! Brand new year, brand new adventures, and this January we are embarking on a fun one. Together we are going to explore what Disney World has to offer, from the attractions to the shows to the atmosphere — and maybe some parties, treats, and other experiences thrown in for good measure. We’ll hit all the big headliners, but I’ll also bring you with me on some off-the-beaten-path adventures that you may not know about — but that you’ll be excited to try as soon as you can.
Since we’re just getting started, we’re going to start where so many people do — The Transportation and Ticket Center. Often written as TTC, this little hub is your portal to all the magic – and where hubby and I showed ourselves off as newbies on our first trip. You see, it’s a little tricky. You go through that gorgeous light blue and gold “Magic Kingdom” arch, knowing that you are so close to the joy and sparkle and delight, and you end up in the biggest parking lot ever. It is conveniently broken up into “Villains” and “Heroes” and then further broken into individual characters. Take my advice — snap a picture of the name and number at the end of the aisle where you park. This will get you back to your car so much more easily and you won’t end up wandering aimlessly, hitting your panic button, wishing you had put a huge sign on your car.
You have two options once you have gotten to the parking lot and found your spot. You can either hop on a tram or start your trek on foot. My family always goes by foot. The only time we ever took a tram was after I had broken my foot in Hollywood Studios. Fun. Even when we were parked so far from the front that we couldn’t see the building, the walk wasn’t that far and it just adds to the excitement. But if you see the tram and want a ride, go for it. When you head back in the evening, however, make sure that you pay attention to the one you choose. They go for specific sections of the lot, so you want to make sure that you choose the one that will bring you to your area of the lot.
Whether you are walking or tram-ing, there will come a point when you see an arch of Mickeys. You’re almost there! Just keep going and you’ll soon find yourself walking into a station filled with activity, decoration, and excitement. Keep in mind this is not the Magic Kingdom. I will never forget walking up to a security guard and asking where to find the entrance to the Magic Kingdom and having him smile and say “Well, you’re still about a quarter of a mile away”. We thought we had somehow gotten lost — until we realized that this was where we either snagged the monorail or the ferry to bring us to that fabled land of joy. We chose the monorail and the rest is a fairy tale.
The first thing you see when you get to the TTC is ticket windows. This is where you find your tickets, special event tickets, annual passes, and other goodies. If you already have your tickets, go about your way. If you are visiting during a special time such as Halloween or Christmas, you’ll see decorations and advertisements for the special ticketed events of the time. Now that you’re here, you have a couple of options. You can either make your way to the right to the bus loop and grab a bus to Hollywood Studios, head to the center where you will find ramps leading to the two monorail lines, one that goes to the Magic Kingdom and one to EPCOT, or go all the way in and to the left and hop on the ferry that will bring you to the Magic Kingdom.
The TTC is not just about getting to the parks. This is also a sneaky place to enjoy the Magic Kingdom fireworks if you aren’t in the park that night. They even pipe in the music! Head toward the ferry dock for the best view. This is a fabulous way to spend your first night in town if you don’t want to use park tickets or if you don’t want to be around the crowds while enjoying the show. Grab a treat on the way and experience a little taste of the magic!
If you are driving to the parks and planning on visiting just the Magic Kingdom or hopping around and ending your day at the Magic Kingdom, parking at the TTC is your best option. This will get you to the park and ensure that you are ready to drag yourself out to your car, exhausted and happy, at the end of the day. If you are planning on going to EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, or Hollywood Studios and not ending your evening at MK, consider parking there. The lots are smaller and easier to access. Keep in mind, however, that if you want to roam around and aren’t sure where you might end up during the day, the TTC is your best shot.
One final quick tip that I learned last trip — if you are arriving at the TTC and want to go to Animal Kingdom, you are going to first have to choose transportation to the Magic Kingdom. Either go by monorail or ferry, but before you go through the gates, head to the new bus depot in the front and grab your Animal Kingdom bus. It’s a bit more complicated than it used to be and if you have little ones who might get upset or confused when they see MK and don’t go in, I suggest trying to drive to Animal Kingdom instead.
Taryn was born and raised, and still lives in Richmond, Virginia. Neither she nor her husband ever had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World when they were children, but when their daughter Avalon came along, they decided she was not going to follow in their footsteps. They brought Avalon for the first time when she was 3 and have been hooked ever since. Now along with Taryn’s mother and equally Disney-loving older brother, they go “home” at least once a year, and by the time she is staring longingly at Cinderella Castle from the ferry on their last night, Taryn is well on her way to planning the next trip. As a group consisting of two adults with Asperger’s, including one who is also vegan, a very accommodating husband, an only child, a senior, and a service dog, they are a pretty special family, but Taryn is excited to show that the World really is The Most Magical Place on Earth and that there is a place there for everyone. When she isn’t thinking about her next Disney adventure and trying to come up with a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party costume that will beat her Oozma Kappa nerd look, she is a professional blogger and novelist, but Taryn also likes to indulge her Disney passion on her Etsy shop It’s Better in Vinyl.