The following are tips and tricks we learned through trial and error once inside the Disney World parks. As always, use what you think will work for you! So here are my:
1.) Make a plan 1st thing you enter the park: Upon entering the parks you will get a map and listing of entertainment and times for the events happening that day. So look at the entertainment (parades, shows, character meet ups, etc.) and determine what you which of those you want to do first!
2.) Plan your rides around your entertainment: once you know what entertainment you want to go to, then plan the rides you definitely want to ride and plan your route!
3.) Pack snacks and lunch: I cannot stress this ENOUGH. Tons of time is wasted in lines trying to get food and drinks. If you pack snacks, drinks, and lunch you will save $ and time!!! Remember you can always go to a nice dinner in the evening if you want (but if you want to go to dinner, make sure you find out if you need to make reservations)!
4.) Use stroller parking: If you are bringing a stroller use the stroller parking that is provided for the rides and shows. You WILL have to take your stroller BACK to stroller parking if you don’t abide by these rules so do it right the first time and you will save time 🙂
5.) Start early and go back and take a nap: We got to the parks early (close to opening) and during the hottest part of the day, we went back to the hotel to take a nap and get refreshed. So WORTH it! My son took very LONG naps everyday and it really helped him stay away for the late festivities in the park! If you have children you will be surprised how they can stay up so late IF they are given a good long nap!
6.) Take advantage of extended park hours: I do not recommend going to parks that open earlier b/c there are just TONS of people entering the parks early trying to make the most of they day but that will add time to waiting in lines, etc. BUT I do recommend taking advantage of LATE/EXTENDED hours (ESPECIALLY in Magic Kingdom) b/c many families take their children home after the night parades or fireworks and you will have super short lines and get so much more done in just that 1 extended hour!!!!
7.) Take advantage of lines shorter than 20 mins: If you want to go on a ride and you see line wait time is 20 mins or shorter, GET IN LINE, b/c that is probably the shortest wait time it will have all day!
8.) Arrive at shows 10 mins ahead of time: the Disney parks do a great job keeping their arenas for shows large enough to accommodate large crowds. I know they say show up 30 mins ahead of time before shows starts to ensure a seat, but we were there during one of the busiest months and we got into every show we wanted to go to by showing up 10 mins before the next show. This will SAVE you at least 20 mins per show you go to, to use for other things (rides, etc.). We went the three shows in Animal Kingdom and showed up 10 mins before for each (we saved ourselves 60 mins to do other things that day!!!!)
9.) 9 o’clock showing of Fantasmic (Disney Hollywood Studios): This 9 o’clock show DOES get packed so you MUST show up 30 mins ahead of time OR go to the 10:30 pm showing which we LOVED b/c it was not packed at all!
10.) Photo pass: I know most people don’t want to get the photo pass but we got one just to see if there were any pics we missed out on or didn’t get a good pic that their photographers did get. Ordering pics is pricey so be sure you really want that pic if you decide to order. ALSO if your photo pass gets wet, you can go to customer service and get it transferred to a clean photo pass.
11.) Large groups…DON’T be afraid to split up: I know you want this trip to be a family thing but if you are going with a large group (our group was a group of 8 so that was large) DON’T be afraid to split up. Let those that have the same interests go with each other and find places to meet up throughout the day! It will make sure you all get to do what you want to do for the short time you are in the parks!
12.) Remain patient and positive: No matter how sticky and sweaty you are. No matter how tired you are or how many blisters you have on your feet, try very hard to remain patient and positive…especially to the cast members. They are just as hot and tired as you and they deal with that EVERYDAY! Cast members really try to make Disney World the happiest place on earth so let’s help them out!
13.) Do not wait to buy souvenirs at Downtown Disney: if you REALLY love a particular character or movie, make sure you take time to buy the souvenirs for those characters/movies in the themed gift shop they have in the parks. Downtown Disney stores are good for general souvenirs but they can’t possibly carry everything so if you really LOVE a souvenir, get it in the parks when you see it!
14.) Charge your phones and cameras nightly: Make sure every morning your phones and cameras are fully charged. And clear off the memory on your phones and cameras each night (by downloading onto a hard drive/computer) so you have maximum memory for the next day!
15.) Use the Disney App: if your phone will allow it, use the Disney app so you can find out where characters were going to be, what lines are shortest, and where fast passes are still available!
16.) Scavenger Hunts in parks: Every park has some sort of scavenger hunt daily for kids (and even adults if you so choose to participate). We LOVE scavengar hunts but didn’t have enough time to do it. However, we saw a number of children really enjoying themselves while doing these hunts (particularly in Epcot the kids really seemed to love it!)
17.) Use FP (fast pass): You can use your FP every 2 hours! So get into the parks and FP the rides you definitely want to go on! Also we were traveling with a few people who were NOT going to go on any FP rides so we were able to use their FPs for other rides without having to wait 2 hours. I’m sure this is probably NOT supported or recommended by Disney but it worked for us! 🙂
18.) Autograph books: If you want to save money, bring a booklet from home to get autographs. But if you want the whole Disney experience, I would recommend you buy your autograph book ASAP when you get into your 1st park b/c you never know when you will meet a character!!!
19.) Use easy WDW: this website is great b/c it gives you an awesome calendar of what parks are recommended to be the best park to attend each day, which parks have extended hours, how large the crowds are planned to be, weather for each day and so much more!!! It’s a great website to help guide your experience and vacation plans! We used it and it really helped! 🙂
20.) What to do in the parks:
Epcot: Epcot if geared more for older children and adults. If you have young children you may not plan for much time to be there at all.
- Fast pass Soarin’ in the am b/c the fast passes do run out!
- Enjoy the shows in the countries if you can!
- Fast pass Test Track
- In each country there is a kid’s craft/activity they can partake in so don’t miss it if you think the kids will enjoy it!
- Go to see the Lion King show! It’s awesome!
- Go to see Finding Nemo: The Musical! Great for all ages
- Fast pass the Safari so you can save time
- Definitely spend time meeting the characters here b/c the lines are SO MUCH SHORTER!
- If you have young kids, plan to spend some time in Dino Land play place b/c it will keep them entertained and allow them to burn off energy. There is only one entrance and exit so it keeps children safe as well.
Disney Hollywood Studios:
- Do go to the stunt show! It only shows 2xs a day but its so cool! And my 3 year old loved it so it’s great for kids as well!!!
- Do get pics with Lightning McQueen and Mater! They were next to the Muppets theater when we were there and boy was it exciting to see the kids get to touch Lightning and Mater!!!!
- Go the the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play place early as it closes early!
- Go on the back lot tour early…its really neat to see how some Hollywood magic is made! (it also closes early) If you have kids, bring snacks b/c even if it isn’t that interesting to the kids, they will enjoy the snacks!
- Want to go to a character breakfast or lunch? It was recommended to me to go in DHS b/c it is less chaotic as compared to MK.
- Fast pass Tower of Terror and Rock n’ Roller Coaster!
- I do NOT recommend going to MK in the AM b/c there are like a million people there but if you have a park hopper, I do recommend going in the afternoon, after naps, while other children are napping and/or during dinner time b/c there is a smaller crowd.
- The electric parade is done at 9 and 11 pm. I recommend while everyone is sitting trying to watch the electrical parade at 9 pm, you get in line for some rides and enjoy the smaller crowds at the 11pm parade. We LOVED watching the later parade, we could actually SEE it! 🙂 Also if you watch the electric parade from Frontier land you will have a great seat!!!
- Definitely take advantage of extended hour in MK. We got on so many rides, in that 1 hour that we would have never been able to do had we not been there at that time!
- Try to go on Pirates of Caribbean during 1st showing of electric parade b/c lines are SUPER short (we had no wait!)
- When the crowds are really big (like they were when we went in June), we took advantage of the Disney Railroad to travel from “land” to “land” and it saved us so much time!!! So you might want to check that out!
- Fast pass Space Mountain and if you don’t get to go on the Safari in AK, then Fast pass the Jungle Safari in Adventure land. It will save time!
You can also find some great Disney tips on what used to be called Oh, How Pintearesting blog but is now All Y’all Need. Just scroll down on the right and find her Disney tab, click and read all about her recommendations and suggestions!!!!