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Walt Disney World Tips and Tricks on Day 96

It is day 96, and we always wanted to have a list of tips and tricks that have helped us on over our 12 Disney vacations. We have found these over the past years, so as always, check with Disney for anything official on events, times, and places. Over time, we will be adding to the list, so check back often. We hope these help you have a magical trip- enjoy!Anniv21

Our General Walt Disney World Tips and Tricks

  • Familiarize yourself with Walt Disney World before leaving your Resort room- make a plan of what you want to see and do and where you want to go. Set a schedule.
  • Go to DisneyParks.com to find out Extra Magic Hours, Park Hours, Parades, Nightime shows, and special events going on at the Parks.
  • Set your expectations early and up front to set the proper tone of your vacation.
  • Take advantage of the Fastpass System– look on each Park Map to find the “FP” symbol. This will let you know that the Disney Attraction uses the FP System.  Go to the desired Attraction of your liking, put your theme park admission ticket into the machine, and a fastpass will spit out.  A Cast Member is usually standing near them to help, ask if you need it.
  • If bringing a stroller, bring the Umbrella kind so that they are smaller and easier to fold up.  When parking your stroller in the park, make sure to tie a ribbon on or put something on it that marks it as yours. You would not BELIEVE the aisles of parked strollers you will see outside certain attractions! Also, DO NOT leave your personal belongings in the stroller.  A diaper bag I think is ok, but a diaper bag with your wallet, the camcorder, etc… not ok and you are asking for it to be stolen. It is a relatively safe place to be, but you want to proactive as much as possible.
  • Get to Parks at Park Opening- hit the popular rides first to avoid the crowds
  • Take a picture of the backside your Photopass card which contains your unique number for your pictures- that way if you lose your card, you still have the number.
  • Buy Disney trading pins on Ebay in large quantities from reputable dealers – this will save you money per pin, and give you a full lanyard to trade when you get into the Parks.  Each Cast Member that has a lanyard can trade with you, except for those who wear GREEN ones. The green lanyards are only to be traded with children trading pins- and they are strict about this.
  • Buy Rain Ponchos from the Dollar Store to bring on your trip- they are cheap, and will do the trick for the day.
  • Chewing Gum is not sold in the parks, if you like gum, bring it from home or buy it off Disney Property.
  • Bring extra memory cards and upload to a laptop at the end of every day- if you lose the memory card, at least they are backed up.
  • Go to the LEFT of every line that has a left and right line. LEFT always goes faster.
  • Buy Body Glide to prevent rashes and chafing between your legs and under arms- it is INCREDIBLE!!!  Search for it online or ask at Sports stores- runners use it.
  • Use “Moleskin” found at any Wal-Mart, which will prevent you from getting blisters.
  • If you are concerned about leaving your luggage with Magical Express to deliver it later to your  room, have the bus driver stow it under the bus so you have it right away with you when you check-in.  Call and confirm they still allow this.
  • Save money on food buy using a taxi or towncar service in FL and take from the Resort or right from the Airport to head to a grocery store to pick up soda, water, and snacks.
  • Take as many pictures as you can- you can always delete at the end of the day.
  • If you pre-order the Disney Photopass from home before your trip, you will save money on it. Buying the CD gives you the freedom and rights to the professional pictures they take of you at Walt Disney World. You can find more information on PHOTOPASS  at Disneyparks.com
  • Wear comfortable tennis shoes for the Park days- you will walk all day, so make sure they are broken in before leaving home- DO NOT WEAR NEW SHOES.
  • At disboards.com you can connect with others to “fridge” swap.  For the Value Resorts, people swap the same mini-fridge to use during their vacation. More information can be found on the boards.

Disney Resorts

  • The Refillable Mugs you can buy at the Resorts cannot be used in the Parks- if you plan on refilling them every morning, you will then have to carry them around at the parks all day unless you rent a locker.  Most people don’t eat a lot at the Resorts, so make sure buying the mug is worth it.  They are nice to have after a long day, but they aren’t available 24 hours a day- only during the Resorts food court hours.
  • Stay on Disney Property to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours, Disney Transportation, and having the ability to leave any Park and take a break without having to go a major distance.
  • All have laundry facilities to use
  • The Main Pool will always be busier- if you have a choice, try the quieter pools away from the Main Area for less people and a more relaxed feel.
  • Get familiar with your Disney Resort Map so you know how far it will be to walk to refill your mug, go to the pool, and catch the Disney bus.
  • Housekeeping is called “Mousekeeping” here. If you wish to tip them, make sure you tip every day, and not at the end of your stay, as they are different Mousekeepers every day.
  • If you are staying at the All-Star Resorts, and you don’t want to wait for all of the stops, they are all in walking distance.  Sports is next to Music and Music is next to Movies.  From all 3, you can walk to the McDonalds at the end of the road.
  • If you are staying at either Port Orleans Resort, you are able to swim at either Resort because they are Sister Resorts.
  • Take advantage of the pools in the afternoon- do the Resorts full force in the morning, then head out after 3.  Take a swim with the family, shower, take a nap, recharge, and head back into the Park for the fun nighttime events.
  • Check with the front desk on what activities are going on during your stay so you may either enjoy them or avoid them.

Character Tips and Tricks

  • Some Characters CANNOT autograph due to the size and shape of them, they will most likely have a stamp to use.
  • You can make autograph books at home for your trip, just make sure they are no bigger than 5×7, as you don’t want to carry around a large book and the Characters may have a hard time holding larger items.
  • Have your Autograph books open and your marker or pen ready.  Bring several Sharpie markers on your trip, that way you have back-up,  and the markers are easy to use for the Characters.
  • The Characters need a break once and awhile, if the Character Handler lets you know they have to go, but will be right back, be patient.  They WILL be back unless they say otherwise, and it usually takes about 10-15 minutes for their break.  I have experienced that most people leave if the Characters break- you will move up if you can wait it out and you aren’t in rush.
  • Have your camera ready for the picture, and have a group picture taken instead of the kids, then Mom, then Grandpa… you get the point.  Enjoy your time with the Characters, but me mindful to keep the line moving for others to get their picture as well.
  • The Photopass People will gladly take your picture with your own camera- be clear with how your camera works and have it ready when you hand it over to them.
  • Find the Fab Five (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto) in the Character Spot at Epcot, Camp Minnie/Mickey at Animal Kingdom,  and other areas in the other Parks.  Due to Toontown’s closing at Magic Kingdom, ask at the Customer Service area in the front of the Park where those Characters, and any others, will be that particular day.
  • Have fun with them… we asked Chip and Dale where Alvin was… it was pretty funny the reaction we got!

 Disney Dining

  • Book Dining Reservations up to 180 days in Advance- book as soon as you are able too- places like LeCellier and both Princess Breakfasts fill up VERY fast!
  • Research the Dining Plan on DisneyParks.com – make sure you will be able to eat all that is offered.  The largest Disney Dining Plan is A LOT of food- you don’t want to waste your credits, as they won’t refund you the money you don’t use on the Dining Plan.
  • If you do have credits leftover, buy meals for others before you leave and use the snack credits to get small edible items to take home with you as souvenirs.
  • Counter Service means you walk up and order, Table Service means that you sit down and are served.
  • Certain Places will charge you TWO credits for a meal- make sure you can afford the credits to eat there and that it is worth it.
  • When the crowds are large in the Parks, they will make you wait until your entire party is with you to sit at a table.  Make sure that you are ready for this, and have everyone ready to order while keeping an eye out for a table.
  • Want to beat the rush? Eat lunch before 11 and after 3 and dinner at 4 or after 7 p.m.
  • Need a quick breakfast treat? Try the Main Street Bakery in MK, or Sunshine Seasons at Epcot.
  • Make the most of your Counter Service credits- eat at places like “Pepper Market” at Coronado Springs Resort and the “Wolfgang Puck Express” in Downtown Disney where you get twice the amount of food you would for the same credit in the Parks.
  • Give yourself at least 90 minutes if not more to get to your Dining Reservation if using the Disney Transportation.  You can’t count on busses, ferries, or Monorails to be on time or not to break down.  Giving yourself enough time to get there will keep the situation a little less stressful.

Magic Kingdom Tips and Tricks

  • Get to the Park before it opens to see Mickey and his friends arrive on the Train and have a small show to countdown to the opening of the Park. It is very fun and special to see.
  • After opening, and go directly to Fantasyland first.  You can ride Peter Pan, Snow White, Small World, Pooh, and Dumbo with little to no wait within the first hour.  Lines can be over a 90 minute wait for most of these attractions after the lunch hour well into the night.
  • Fastpass the major rides like Big Thunder, Space Mountain, or Splash Mountain as soon as you are done with Fantasyland.  Since Big Thunder and Splash Mountain are close to each other, fastpass one, then ride the other. By the time you get off of one of them, you should be close to the fastpass time for the other.
  • If you want to get wet on Splash Mountain, but don’t want to feel it all day, you can do one of 2 things. Either bring towels and a change of clothes and store them in the lockers near the Train Station in the front of the Park or carry in a backpack, or do what we did and ride it last before leaving the Park for the afternoon.  We were dry enough to not drip as we rode the monorail to the TTC to get to our car, but we had towels and everything else to make it comfortable until we got back to the hotel room to shower and change.
  • Visit Attractions like Carousel of Progress, Hall of Presidents, and Philharmagic in the afternoon when it’s the warmest outside- these theaters are a wonderful break from the hot sun and will give you a chance to recharge in the comfy chairs.
  • For the 3:00 Parade, find a spot around 2:15 to ensure a curbside or front row seat.
  • If there are 2 Parade times provided for the night time parade, always choose the later one.  The earlier one will empty out, giving you a better chance at a curbside seat and a less crowded and more enjoyable time.
  • Carousel of Progress line goes quickly- don’t worry about large crowds outside of it.
  • Cosmic Rays and Pecos Bills have a GREAT variety and a fixings bar- a Counter Service Restaurant.
  • Try a “Dole Whip” which is a stand found in Adventureland. They only make these in 3-4 other places in the world.  Pineapple juice and softserve ice cream- they are AMAZING!!
  • Funnel cakes can be found at “Sleepy Hollow” which is a small corner stand located at the bottom of the Castle, near the Liberty Square entrance.    They are huge, enough for a family to split, if not 2 people.
  • Ride the TTA for a wonderful view of the Castle, Tomorrowland, and a great breeze to cool off the heat of the day.  This ride usually has a small line and mainly a walk-on.
  • Fastpass Buzz Lightyear, enjoy the Monster Inc Laugh Floor next door, then come back to ride Buzz. Carousel of Progress and the TTA are great attractions to enjoy while waiting for a fastpass time.

Epcot Tips and Tricks

  • Again, get to the Park at opening.  The popular rides that people hit first are usually Test Track or Soarin’.  Head to the right to head to Soarin’ and to the left for Test Track.  The crowds usually head to Soarin, which is located inside The Land pavilion.  Follow the crowd, and get in line.  ANY RIDE with a line in the first hour will go quickly because there are no fastpass people coming on until after the first hour the ride has opened.  We get in line, ride, and then grab a fastpass before we head out.
  • Have little ones? The Fountains outside the “Imagination” Pavilion is a fun spot for them to play- it’s away from the main crowds of the park- just watch the Captain EO show exits in the same area.
  • Send a free virtual postcard inside the Imageworks Playground area- also fun for families to play in the cool air conditioning.
  • Test Track has a single rider line- use this when you want to walk right on- keep in mind you will NOT be seating next to anyone in your party.
  • When you first enter the World Showcase in Epcot, travel counter clockwise, starting at Canada, to beat the crowds when it first opens.
  • There are 2 rides in the World Showcase, one in Mexico and one in Norway.
  • Most of the World Showcase films that are shown are STANDING ROOM ONLY- they have leaning rails, but they aren’t much help when your feet hurt.  Kids aren’t usually happy to be in here because of the lack of seats, so keep that in mind.
  • World Showcase is a long walk around- if your beat- there is a dock by the back and front.  Grab the Friendship boat  to take to beat the walking.
  • If you need to recharge, ride “Universe of Energy” which is a longer, slower ride.  Possibly a nap.
  • Best seats for “Illuminations” is at the Cantina, the Mexican Restaurant on the water, and the Rose and Crown in the UK on the other side.
  • Check and see if there are any Desert parties going on during your vacation that you can buy tickets too- Disney has a roped off area for a guaranteed spot for the fireworks  and tables full of calorie filled goodness.
  • Buy a Passport at any of the Countries to have a member from each Country stamp and sign it as you visit the World Showcase. I did this on my birthday and had them write “Happy Birthday” in their own language to me.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Tips and Tricks

  • Get to Park Opening- head to Toy Story Mania first thing.  Get in line to ride, ride it, then after you get done, fastpass it to ride it again later.  The fastpasses for this attraction are usually gone within 1-2 hours of it opening.
  • A faster way to get to the Animation Academy is to enter the Animation Gallery to the right of the tour entrance- go towards the back and through the exhibit area.  Once you enter the Main Area, the class line is to the right.  Classes run about every 30 mins and you get to take your drawing home with you.  A not miss attraction!!
  • Bring a Pringles Can to put your artwork in from the Animation Class- this keeps it wrinkle free and contained from the elements. (Given to us by a reader- thank you!)
  • Inside the Animation building, you can not only draw, but take a tour, and meet Sorcerer Mickey, the latest Disney Characters, and usually Frozone and Mr. Incredible.  Paint on screens and use your voice for a movie clip-the building is a great break from the heat.
  • The night time show “Fantasmic” only plays certain evenings-check the schedule at Disneyparks.com before leaving home so you can plan accordingly.  The show is great, and I encourage you to get there an hour beforehand. There are snack type foods in the theater area to have a bite to eat while you wait for the show and hold your seats.   The closer you sit to the water’s edge, the wetter you will get from the show itself.  Sit higher to stay dry.
  • Want to be a part of the Backlot Tour show? Be at one of the shows during the first hour when crowds are low and volunteer to act in a movie scene!
  • Check for special events going on at DHS. Star Wars Weekends are held during the months of May and June- meet Star wars celebrities, characters, and have the chance to shop for special Star Wars collectibles. Check DisneyParks.com for exact dates.
  • If the Narnia Exhibit is still there, it is a quick show. You see movie clips and some of the costumes and props from the movies, but it is a small show that isn’t worth the wait.
  • The Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground is a great place for the little ones to burn off energy and also for photo opportunities. Catch in the morning or at the end of the day to avoid the crowds. It is VERY busy in the afternoon.  There is a Counter Service place to eat at next to it if you would like to play then eat to chill out for a bit.

Animal Kingdom’s Tips and Tricks

  • Head to Kilimanjaro Safari ride first thing in the morning, the rumor is the animals are the most active in the morning.  We fastpass the Safari then head to the Pangani Forest Trail which is next to the Safari- it is a Gorilla trail that is EMPTY during the first hour the Park is open. I HIGHLY recommend it!
  • Right before entering Dinoland, before the bridge, there is a path to the right.  The path leads down a hill where Pooh and Friends live- get pics and autographs.  Not many people know this exists because it’s off the main path, but it is located on the map.
  • When being seated at the Nemo show, try to ask or pace it that you sit on the tier above the walkway as you enter the Theater. The closer seats are nice to see the actors, but you will not be able to see the entire show as well if you had sit up higher.
  • Nemo show and Lion King show are of Broadway caliber and are WORTH the wait in line!
  • If you find music from any of the Parks, it is WISE to buy it when you see it.  Sometimes Downtown Disney will carry them, but specific Park items are sold only in those parks.  Same goes for shirts, hats, etc…
  • Flame Tree Barbeque is a great place to eat with great seats down near the water with a view of Expedition Everest.
  • A great snack stop in the AK is an Egg Roll cart near the “Flights of Wonder” stage.  Cheap and very yummy- great to snack on while walking in the Park.
  • You will find many paths that lead to benches or small animal areas- great for a sit, dealing with the kids, or making a cell phone call away from the crowds.
  • You can find lots of different Characters to meet in the Camp Minnie/Mickey area. Ask at the Guest Services area to find out who will be there that day.
  • Animal Kingdom has a Rainforest Café near the entrance/exit.  I think they are great, but if you have one in the area you live in, I would opt out and eat somewhere that is only found on Disney Property.
  • Watch for a walking vine- her name is “DeVine” and she roams the parks on the walkways.

We encourage you to add your own tips in the comments below and we will add them to our list, making sure you get the credit. Thanks for reading as always!

4 Comments »

  1. Some tips:

    If you’re staying at a resort that requires bussing to get to all of the parks, consider renting a car. Not only are rentals very inexpensive in Orlando, but most, if not all, of the places will deliver the car to you at the resort. You really, really, want to do this if you’re staying there for any length of time. Riding the buss at 2:30am, filled with cotton candy and suffering mild heat stroke is not the way you want to end a day at WDW. Besides, you’ll actually be able to make park openings and your dining reservations on time.

    According to Disney, your birthday is a week-long celebration. When you check in, make sure you tell them that one of you has a birthday, and they’ll give you the “magic button.” Likewise, if you’re celebrating an anniversary or some other occasion, let them know, and they may have a button for that, as well. If you wear those buttons in the park, you’ll get all sorts of extra special treatment at the park. And you can just wear them on every day of your stay — it doesn’t have to be your technically accurate birthday!

    The Dining Plan is the only way to go, when you consider the potential expense of feeding a 4 or more people during each day of your stay. However, if you get behind on the plan (you miss a meal or something), you’ll find yourself eating more than you can really handle. I suggest fasting before you leave for WDW. Consider it just like gearing up for Thanksgiving, but with Mickey Mouse and less snow.

    MK tips:

    Some of the best, and latest, Magic Hours you can find at WDW are at MK. You haven’t really seen the Kingdom unless you’ve seen it through bleary-eyed contagious hilarity and zero-wait lines.

    The special parties (Halloween, Christmas) are always worth the extra expense.

    You can get a great view of the Princess Tiana presentation from the Tom Sawyer bridges near the raft launch. However, you’ll miss the New Orleans-inspired processional as the performers depart the boat. If, instead, you’re situated right across the street from President’s hall, you’ll see both the boat show and the processional.

    A few years back, all of the parks were participating in a new special toy called “Pal Mickey” that would trigger certain reactions in certain areas of the park. Even though they’ve discontinued selling Pal Mickey, he still works in the parks! If you can find him on eBay, his reactions are worth it.

    If you know all the words to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride or the Haunted House, the only way to really enjoy them is to speak in a loud and even tone directly in the ear of your youngest child. Make sure you include the sound effects.

    Epcot:

    Just once in your life, ride Test Track in the rain. Remember: You go up to 70mph in a convertable on this ride, outside.

    Ever since it was built, Spaceship Earth has been the “lame” ride (think “Carousel of Progress,” but at an angle). After a recent reconditioning, however, they’ve added a great deal of self-deprecating humor to the ride. It’s suddenly one of the funniest rides to take at the park.

    If you’ve eaten everywhere at Epcot, leave the park via the back exit (right past the Rose & crown). You’ll find yourself at the Boardwalk, where there are hotel restaurants, some unique places to eat, a dance hall, and a nice beach area with performers to spend a nice quiet night.

    If you go to Epcot around Christmas time, get tickets for the holiday show. Every performance is MC’d by a famous personality. Typically, you can get a deal that includes dinner and preferred seating for the fireworks show.

    If you like the fireworks show at Epcot, consider getting rooms at the Swan & Dolphin, the Boardwalk, or the Beach and Yacht Club. All of the resorts have consierge lounges and rooms with excellent views of the performance.

  2. Wonderful tips to always keep in mind..
    When we went one year we had several photopass cards and I wish we would’ve known what we know now back then. We were able to purchase a cd with our pics & it was well worth it. also, if you don’t have the money right away to purchase cd, which you originally have 30 days, you can extend that by paying a small fee..I can’t remember exactly how much but it was under $20, I think $15. Again, well worth it!

    Enjoy Your Next Trip To Disney