The Summit combines two of my passions: All star cheerleading and Walt Disney World.
You know I’ve been a cheer mom for 17 seasons, but what you don’t know is, I’ve been going to WDW since it first opened.
Thanks to my grandparents choice to spend their winters of retirement in the Orlando area, I had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World every year thereafter throughout my childhood. Back then it was just the Magic Kingdom, and entertainment and food were limited to whatevery you stopped at while walking to and from Ticket E rides.
In young adulthood, I benefitted from a behind-the-magic, insider’s advantage, of all-things-Disney when my brother worked his way up from monorail driver to public relations member in charge of escorting the celebrities who visited the park. He also met and married my niece’s mother so this was followed by another decade-and-a-half worth of great cousins’ vacations.
A true Disney baby, my niece started working in Disney’s management-track internship program and was hired upon graduation. Next weekend (Proud Aunt Moment) she will graduate with her Master’s degree in international business leadership thanks to her Disney employment as a manager in its entertainment division.
So with those credentials, in addition to attending Summit since its inception, I offer you these recommendations to help make your Summit experience at Disney World Certifiably CheerMAD with fun and not unbearably crazy.
“Comps are not vacations” is the mantra in our house.
No matter the great comp location, we focus on the task at hand with as few distractions as possible. If there is time and energy left over, we may take in a touristy activity.
But the Summit is as much a celebration as it is a comp: bids are very hard to get and it’s truly an honor to make it to this level of competition. The focus is still very much on the competition, but I make sure that we max-out the potential for fun by adhering to the following--
First rule of cheer travel: Pack all competition necessities in your cheerleader’s carry-on.
Uniform, shoes, socks, bow, practice uniform, hair piece, bobby-pins, elastics, make-up and travel size hairspray should always accompany the athlete on the plane. You don’t want your athlete in Orlando, Florida and her competition gear flying to Orlando, Oklahoma.
Plan plenty of time to get to and from the ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Busses travel at a very safe speed and if you are running late, you’ll think they are in slow motion.
If you are driving, traffic can get heavy and when you arrive, you may find yourself parking further away from the complex than you’d like.
Whether by bus or your own vehicle, even after your GPS says “you’ve arrived at 700 S Victory Way, Kissimmee, FL” you still have another half-hour or so before you get to your venue.
Once curbside at ESPN’S Wide World of Sports, you’ll want to take your athlete’s picture in front of the iconic globe. There is usually a period of time to wait your turn but it’s worth it. Walking up the hill towards the grand gates of the complex, you’ll slow down with the requisite security stop and more time waiting in line to get your finger scanned.
Depending on the time of day, it can take 30-45 minutes to walk from car/bus to your team’s meet-up. Then expect some congestion as you find your athlete’s competition tent, some of which are on the other side of the complex.
If you are spending time in the parks of Disney Springs and want to get back to ESPN to watch other teams, no matter how you get there, add in 45-minutes to an hour to wait and travel by bus, monorail or boat.
Take the shuttle WDW busses if possible but if you decide to take a cab back to the hotel…
If you are waiting for a cab to depart ESPN Wide World of Sports, walk down to the farthest point, at beginning of the driveway, or at least walk away from the complex. If you wait curbside, at the “Globe” entrance, you’ll get frustrated watching folks flagging down Taxis before they get to you, some wait at the corner of 700 South Victory Way and jump in before the cab even takes the right.
Now that you’ve made it to and from The Summit, there is plenty of ways to celebrate your season’s accomplishments.
Today Walt Disney World includes four theme parks, two water parks, Disney Springs, and over two dozen Disney Resorts with attractions, entertainment, dining, shopping, amenities, and recreation. Here are some ways to make the most of your visit--
When going into the parks, arrive early
Early, as in before the park officially opens and wait at the gates to be let inside. You won’t be alone, special opening ceremonies and speeches will help you pass the time until the “early rope drop” gets you inside first to enjoy crowds and low wait times on popular attractions.
In January , Magic Kingdom started its new policy of opening it’s gates 30 minutes before park opening. Guests can walk up Main Street U.S.A, take pictures along the way, get some shopping done or eat breakfast in the park (see Crystal Palace below) without losing time riding attractions.
Also, arriving early is the only way to see the new show, “Let the Magic Begin,” which starts five minutes before the posted opening of the park. A Royal Crier invites you to join Mickey and friends as they open in a magical way, five minutes before the posted opening the park. This stage show takes place at the Castle Forecourt Stage.
Visit Certain Experiences First Thing In The Morning
Certain attractions in Walt Disney World are so popular that they tend to have very long wait times no matter what time of day. These attractions are also so popular that booking a FastPass for them can be difficult at times. These are the attractions that guests are smart to visit first thing in the mornings as the crowds are still relatively low and wait times are generally short. Some of the best attractions to visit first thing in the morning are the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Soarin’ Around the World, Toy Story Mania, and Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Visit Popular Rides During Parade Times
Enjoy all that Fantasyland has to offer without spending tons of time waiting in line by visiting in the afternoon when the 3:00 pm Festival of Fantasy Parade is running and at night when Wishes Nighttime Spectacular is showing. Many guests head to Main Street to enjoy the parades and leave other areas of the park.
Counterclockwise! (And Know Where Things Are)
A trick many-a-veteran Disney-phile knows about is taking on the parks “counterclockwise.” Our natural sense of direction puts us travelling clockwise, so by hitting rides counterclockwise, you’ll be taking your seat in a constant rhythm as others are leaving. Also, check out maps the night before and plan out your park strategy. By knowing where specific attractions, entertainment, and services can be found, guests save time otherwise would have been spent wandering around, asking for directions, or stopping to consult a map.
Now that you've got the hang of things, look for tomorrow's post: Gone Certifiably CheerMAD at the Summit Part 2 Food