A trip to Walt Disney World is exciting and possibly a once-in-a-lifetime event for your family. If you are planning your first trip, or just haven’t been in a long time, you may not be aware of the size and scope of the “Most Magical Place on Earth”. You will benefit greatly from doing a little pre-trip research and listening to those who are veteran Disney World travelers. With that in mind, here are 20 Disney World Hacks, or Tips to Help Make Your Disney Trip Magical!
1) Consider using a Disney-certified travel agent – Let the experts do the heavy lifting! There is no cost to you; Disney pays them! Plus, your travel agent will work to save you money and help you have a great trip!
2) ADRs/menus – Before you go, check out the Disney restaurants, both in the parks and the resort hotels. You can find current menus and reviews online. When you decide where you’d like to eat, book your Advance Dining Reservations, as much as 180 days out, to ensure you get what you want. The most popular restaurants fill up quickly!
3) Crowd calendar/ Free dining – Consider the time of year you’d like to go to Disney. Basically, if school is out (summer/holidays), Disney will be crowded. Several events take place during the year that might interest you. For the last several years, Disney has offered Free Dining in the fall, after school starts. That can be a great way to save money!
4) Stay onsite/ EMH/ Magical Express – While it is likely cheaper to stay at an offsite hotel, there are distinct advantages to staying with Disney. Among those are: Extra Magic Hours that allow you access to the parks before and after the general public; Magical Express, in which Disney will transport you and your luggage from and back to the Orlando airport.
5) GardenGrocer.com/shipping – If you are staying a week or more, consider having a few grocery items and/or other necessities shipped to your hotel. Not only will you save money, but you can still enjoy your favorite drinks and snacks, just like at home. Bonus tip: Disney serves Coke products. If you prefer Pepsi or other drinks, you can have them delivered.
6) Guidebooks – If you enjoy reading/researching/planning, get yourself a Disney World planning guidebook. Try to find the most recent edition, as Disney is constantly changing. My favorite is The Unofficial Guide.
7) Rope drop – As much as possible, get to the parks before opening, that is, before the cast members “drop the rope” to let you into the park. Most guests aren’t willing to get up early on their vacation, so the crowds are lower in the morning.
8) Character meals or well…just ask – A great way to see several of your favorite characters all at once is a character meal. Hey, you gotta eat, right? If you don’t want to pay the extra cost, just ask the cast members where to find your favorite characters.
9) Special occasions – Stop by guest services at any of the theme parks and get a pin to let everyone know when you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary, wedding, or your first trip.
10) FP+ and short lines – As much as 60 days before your trip, reserve times for your favorite attractions using the Fastpass+ system. Open a free account at MyDisneyExperience.com. Bonus tip: When the crowds build, search out those attractions with little or no wait. There are several in each park.
11) Drive to parks, rental car – If you stay onsite, Disney transportation will take you around the resort. However, with the exception of the Magic Kingdom, it’s quicker to use your own car or a rental. Bonus tip: You can rent a car on Disney property.
12) Shorter lines during meals and fireworks/No Fantasmic? – Attraction wait times are often shorter during meal times and fireworks shows. Bonus tip: On nights the Fantasmic show is NOT showing at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, lines are shorter there after dark.
13) Back to resort in the afternoon – During the summer months, consider going back to your resort hotel to enjoy the pool(s) and/or a nap. Return to the park later for the parades and fireworks.
14) Free water/ Free soda – You can get a free (!) cup of water at any quick-service food location. Just ask! Bonus tip: At Epcot’s Club Cool, you can enjoy free Coke products. Be sure to try the Beverley!
15) Other places to watch Wishes – The front of the Magic Kingdom gets very crowded during the Wishes fireworks show. Other places to watch include the Main Street Train Station, California Grill restaurant (with a reservation), the Polynesian resort beach (not as good with recent additions) and the Transportation and Ticket Center.
16) Buses/boats/monorails – Disney transportation is myriad! Take advantage of all of it. You might even enjoy it!
17) Enjoy your hotel – All the Disney hotels are well-themed and clean. All of them have activities to enjoy during your stay. Be sure to reserve time to enjoy all your resort has to offer.
18) Waterparks – The Disney waterparks are world class! Spend a day or two during your trip at Blizzard Beach and/or Typhoon Lagoon.
19) Early ADR in Magic Kingdom – OK, this is a big secret, so don’t share it. If you make an early Advance Dining Reservation in the Magic Kingdom, before park opening, you can walk down Main Street USA while it’s empty! You can get some great pictures and you might run into a character or two!
20) Electrical Water Pageant – Every night on Bay Lake, outside the Magic Kingdom, the little-known Electrical Water Pageant takes place around the Magic Kingdom resorts. Impress your family with this gem!
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!