Walt Disney World is 25,000 acres! That is a daunting size compared to most vacation destinations. I live and breathe Disney and go quite often since I am a local. Here are 101 Disney World tips and tricks that I want to share with you today!
Important Information Due to COVID-19: Certain parks, hotels, restaurants, and other offerings may be modified or unavailable, limited in capacity, and subject to limited availability or closure, and park admission and offerings are not guaranteed. See Disney World’s Know Before You Go Page for more information.
My Best Disney World Tips & Tricks
General Planning Tips
1. Book your vacation early. You have the biggest selection of the least expensive room categories before they book up – when you book with an agent they will watch for future discounts and automatically roll your package over to save you money. Booking early also means you have more time to pay off your vacation and you can make payments over time. There is only a $200 deposit required to book your Disney vacation. Currently, booking is available for dates through July 2022.
2. Use an Authorized Disney Travel Planner. Vacation Planners are completely free to use and take the stress and hassle out of planning your Disney vacation. You deserve someone who can help you through every step of you vacation, Costco or AAA won’t do that plus, travel planners handle problems for you if you encounter one. I am an agent with Favorite Grampy Travels and would love to help you plan the Disney vacation of your dreams. Click HERE for a free no-obligation quote.
3. The longer you stay, the cheaper the park tickets. One day tickets are expensive. Ticket packages and multi-day tickets are cheaper.
4. Make Your Park Pass Resevations ASAP. As soon as you put your deposit on that dream Disney vacation, and link the reservation/tickets to your account make your Disney park reservations. The reservation system has been extended to at least 2023. Make sure you check availability here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/availability-calendar/
5. Make your dining reservations 60 days out. A lot of the unique and character dining experiences do get fully booked quickly. Restaurants that book the fastest are Be Our Guest, Topolino’s, Chef Mickey’s, and Cinderella’s Royal Table.
7. Plan one non-park day. Take a day of rest. Spend part of the non-park day exploring Disney Springs or other resorts.
8. Rent scooters and strollers from an off-property company. Disney overcharges and other companies come highly recommended from many Pixie Dusted Journeys readers. I suggest Buena Vista Scooters and Kingdom Strollers. If you are a client of mine, I can set that up for you!
9. Pay for your trip and souvenirs with discounted Disney Gift cards. Some places to consider are Target using the RedCard, grocery stores with fuel perks, Sam’s Club and Costco.
10. Wear Comfortable Masks. Wearing masks in the heat can be uncomfortable. I have found the best masks to be Disney ones sold on ShopDisney or in the parks. I also like wearing disposable ones. The heat makes masks get damp quickly and the disposable ones are good for keeping the masks the most sanitary.
Disney World Safety Tips
11. Take a picture of your child(ren) at the start of each day. If by chance you get separated, then you have a recent picture and the clothes they are wearing for that day.
12. Have all bags ready for security to go through. With the new security scanners, very few people have to get their bags checked but if you have to have your checked, have them opened and ready. Know beforehand what is not allowed at the parks.
13. If driving, lock all doors and hide any valuables. A couple years ago I had my pin book in my car and a laptop. The laptop was under the seat. My car was broken into and all items were stolen. I have been so diligent since then protecting my valuables.
14. Don’t leave valuables in strollers while on rides. People do steal stuff out of strollers. I have heard way too many stories of this happening. Take your camera and anything else you deem valuable.
15. Keep your family safe your way. Don’t listen to other people’s opinions about what is best for your family. If your child is a runner, use a backpack harness. Check out this cute Disney-themed Backpack harness!
Disney Dining Tips
16. Drink the free ice water. Every quick service offers free ice water. Florida can get very hot, and you need to stay hydrated. Bottled water is more than $3 a bottle. Bring a water bottle or insulated cup from home and you are all set!
17. Ship groceries to your resort via Amazon, Garden Grocer, or Target. If you want to enjoy breakfast and packed meals, this is the best way to have groceries if you are flying in. There is a small package delivery fee. You can also use Instacart for delivery.
18. Make a Snack List. Disney is a foodie’s dream. There is so much more than standard burgers, chicken tenders, and pizza. See something on a blog, vlog, or Facebook group, write it down and then make your must-do list.
20. Mobile Order Your Lunch & Dinner Early in the Day. If you wait until the last minute there will be no availability for your desired dining time. Most quick-service locations are mobile orders only now.
21. Bring Your Own Reusable Straws. Disney has converted all of their straws to paper ones. While this is great for the environment, they tend to not be the best with your milkshake. Bring your own reusable straws so your drinks won’t taste like paper.
Disney World Resort Tips
22. Get a resort that fits your vacation and budget. Value resorts are for travelers on a tight budget and those who will be in the parks more than the room. Moderate and deluxe resorts are for those that are going to be spending more time at the resort or that want more room.
23. Sign up for a wake-up call and let a Disney Character start your day. This is an especially good idea on those mornings that you’re getting up extra-early for Magic Hours or a marathon day at the park. Last time I stayed at a Disney resort Baymax woke me up!
24. Consider doing a Split Stay. Some guests just can’t decide where to stay or they want a couple days at a more expensive resort. You can do a split stay and Disney will transport your luggage between resorts for you.
25. Looking for the Best Resort Pool? Beach Club and Boardwalk share Stormalong Bay and that pool is amazing! It features a sandy bottom shallow lagoon for the littles, a 9′ deep lazy river, whirlpool, waterfall, elevated sun deck, multiple slides, and Jacuzzis.
General Park Tips
26. Carry a comfortable bag with park essentials.
27. Make your stroller stand out. Add balloons (not the ones sold in the park), a cute large sign, or something else that makes your stroller easy to spot. Cast members move strollers while you are at an attraction so they are closer to the exit.
28. Do your souvenir shopping at park closing. The rides and shows close at park closing. The gift shops do not. They stay open for another hour or so before they start trying to get you out of the park.
29. Take a picture of your parking lot name and row number. It is NOT fun after a long day at the parks looking all over the huge parking lots for your car. Trust me, I have done it once or twice.
30. Take a mid-day break. Your park ticket allows you to enter the park all day. Kids and adults alike get tired and cranky in the afternoon. If you are staying on property, go back to your resort to recharge. If you are staying off property, choose a show to enjoy in the afternoon.
31. Get Memory Maker. Photographers are everywhere and everyone in the family should be part of the memories. Don’t be shy around them, ask them if you want a specific pose or different variations of group photos, they are very happy to oblige. Getting this is even more important now since Cast Members and even regular guests don’t feel comfortable handling someone’s phone post-pandemic. Buy it in advance to save $30.
32. Take Advantage of Ride Swap (parents of little ones). Rider Swap enables a parent to ride with the older children while the other parent waits with the younger child. After the older children ride, the parents swap places and they ride again. Just let a Cast Member know that you would like to use the rider swap option.
33. Get your Free “I’m Celebrating” button. Disney has buttons at almost every gift shop. These buttons let people know if you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, wedding, 1st visit, or anything else you want to celebrate!
34. Maximize your time at the parks. Try to do all your attractions in one area before moving on or you will spend a lot of time walking. Have a touring plan, but don’t stick to it too strictly because unexpected magic can happen anywhere. If you are a client of mine, I can make a touring plan for you!
Magic Kingdom Tips
35. Plan at least 2 days to fully explore the Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom has so many things to do and see that trying to conquer the park in one day is really hard.
36. Some rides are better at night. Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and the People Mover are just some of the rides that are better at night. You get to see the Magic Kingdom all lit up and it is breathtaking!
37. Stay about a half hour past park closing for the Kiss Goodnight. The Kiss Goodnight is a special goodbye message from Disney.
38. Character Cavalcades. These are mini parades consisting of one float with characters and sometimes dancers. These come out about every 20-30 minutes and their route begins over by Splash Mountain and ends by the Harmony Barbershop. Magic Kingdom has the most and they are a great way to see the favorite characters you love!
39. Characters at the Train Station. Characters sometimes come out to the train station and interact with guests while staying socially distanced.
40. Rope Drop Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This ride will have the longest wait and without Fastpass service currently available, you will want to go there first.
41. Best Place to Watch Happily Ever After Fireworks. The best place to see the Happily Ever After fireworks show is to the right of the Partners statue on the side walkways that lead to Tomorrowland. This way you will be the perfect spot to see Tinker Bell flying overhead.
42. Rope Drop Soarin’ or Test Track. These rides will have the longest waits.
43. Grab a Free Festival Book. If you are going during an Epcot International Festival be sure to grab a festival booklet that has all the booth menus and the festival activities. This will help you decide which dishes you want and what activities you want to do for the day.
Hollywood Studio’s Tips
44. Rope Drop Slinky Dog Dash. This line will get the longest and unlike other long-lined rides, the wait is almost all in the direct sun.
45. If the posted wait time on Tower of Terror is 13 Minutes, it means there is really no wait! When entering the Tower of Terror library, move to the opposite end of the room. This will allow you to be the first ones to leave after the preshow.
46. Look for the key at Muppet Vision 3D. If you go to the muppet “ticket office” while you’re waiting for the show, it says that it’s closed– but a sign says “Key Under the Mat.” Look under the mat and you’ll find a key!
47. Take a look at the caricatures of Hollywood celebrities on the wall of the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant. The ones in black frames are copies of the caricatures from the Brown Derby restaurants in Hollywood, while the ones in gold frames are original creations.
48. Look for the Famous A113 on Aliens Swirling Saucers. In the standby queue for Aliens Swirling Saucers, you will find the A113 Easter Egg that is in every Pixar movie.
49. Want to be the rebel spy in Star Tours: The Adventures Continue? Don’t put your 3D glasses on until the ride actually starts. This will increase your chance of being picked! (Thanks Guide2WDW!)
Animal Kingdom Tips
50. Watch Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Disney+. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the most underrated park. Watching this short series on Disney+ will give you and your family a deeper appreciation for this park and the animals in it.
51. Use the secret entrance. There is a second, lesser-known entrance to the theme park at the rear of the Rainforest Cafe gift shop.
52. Become Wilderness Explorers. This cute activity will help kids and adults alike get more out of their Animal Kingdom day.
53. Rope Drop Flight of Passage. This ride is the most popular ride at Animal Kingdom.
54. Do Kilimanjaro Safari in the morning and at dusk. Animals are more active during this time.
55. Animal Kingdom is the hottest park. I don’t mean hottest as in awesome, but actual “feels like” temperature. The plants and trees give off heat and trap humidity. Stay hydrated even though you are in the shade.
56. Don’t feed the animals. Each species is on a special diet that can be seriously harmed by careless visitors.
Disney Springs Tips
57. Most the of the “Disney” shopping is in the Marketplace area. A lot of the stores in the other areas are stores I have locally. I don’t have the world’s largest Disney Store, though. The World of Disney Store is a Disney shopper’s dream!
58. Explore in the evening. Disney Springs nightlife starts in the evening and is just magical. The whole place lights up and street performers make unexpected magic. You can have a drink and unwind without the need to hurry to the next attraction.
59. Raglan Road often has free live music in the bar, particularly on weekends – enjoy for the cost of a drink! (21 and over). There is also free music on the stage just outside of the Hanger Bar.
60. Make Dining Reservations at Disney Springs through the restaurant, not the MDE. Each restaurant only gives Disney some of their reservations. If you can’t get a reservation through the MDE app, try calling the restaurant directly.
61. Wanting an Everglazed Donut or Gideon’s Cookie? They have reservations to get in because the lines are so long. Be sure to get your time before starting your day. They are worth wait.
62. Don’t be afraid to show your #Disneyside. Forget being a grownup for the time you are at Disney. It was part of Walt’s vision for you to enter a world of Fantasy while at Disney. Wear Disney ears, play with the characters, watch the parades, and look for the magic no matter your age!
63. Make your trip more fun by Disneybounding. Disneybounding is dressing in the color schemes of your favorite characters. Hot Topic and Torrid (for us plus-size princesses) has a lot of great Disney items at a reasonable price!
64. Shop for souvenirs at outlet stores. If you don’t have a car on property, use Uber or Lyft.
- Character Warehouse: 4951 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819
- Character Warehouse: 8200 Vineland Avenue, Orlando, FL 32821 (This location is smaller, but closer to Walt Disney World)
65. If one of your souvenirs breaks while you are on vacation, Disney will replace it for FREE! My phone case broke a couple of months after I got it and they gladly replaced it.
Disney World is a little bit different now since Covid but it is still magical. I hope these tips help make your trip just a little bit more magical!