Walt Disney World is 25,000 acres! That is a daunting size compared to most vacation destinations. I have been going to the parks for a long time now and go quite often. Here are 101 Disney World tips and tricks that I want to share with you today!
101 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.
2. Set a Budget. Disney vacations can get very pricey with every experience you add. Make a budget and stick to it! Grab my Free Walt Disney World Budget Printable.
3. 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. They can make your Fastpasses for you, dining, reservations, and more. Plus, they handle problems for you if you encounter one. Pixie Dust Savings has partnered with Favorite Grampy Travels to help you plan the Disney vacation of your dreams. Click HERE for a free no-obligation quote.
4. The longer you stay, the cheaper the park tickets. One day tickets are expensive. Ticket packages and multi-day tickets are cheaper. Planning a trip for more than 10 days? Look into getting an annual pass.
5. Make your dining reservations 6 months out. A lot of the unique and character dining experiences do get fully booked quickly. Restaurants that book the fastest are Be Our Guest, California Grill, Crystal Palace, O’hanas, and Cinderella’s Royal Table.
6. Make your Fastpass Reservations at your 60 or 30 window. Popular and newer rides such a Mine Train, Flight of Passage, and Frozen Ever After go quickly.
8. Plan one non-park day. Take a day of rest. Spend part of the non-park day exploring Disney Springs or other resorts.
9. Rent scooters and strollers from an off-property company. Disney overcharges and other companies come highly recommended from many Pixie Dust Savings readers. I suggest Apple Scooters and Kingdom Strollers.
10. 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.
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. Go through security super quick by having all the compartments on all your bags opened. 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 Winnie the Pooh Backpack harness! Put an older child in a stroller.
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. Decide if the Disney Dining Plan is for you. The Disney Dining Plan is a very stress-free way of dining at Disney. You get so many Quick Service or Table Service credits per day for you to use. What I like best about this is that you don’t have to worry about prices as much on the menu.
18. Change extra meal credits to snack credits on your last day. If you have extra dining credits leftover at the end of your stay, you can change them over to snack credits. Get packaged snacks to take for the travels home or for family and friends who need some Disney magic.
19. 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.
20. Character Meals have great character interaction, but the food is mediocre. I love character meals, but if you are looking for an amazing foodie experience choose restaurants without characters.
21. Love a recipe you tasted? Ask for the recipe so you can make it at home. They will be more than happy to give it to you!
22. Know prices before you go. You can’t make a budget without knowing the prices of the food you will be purchasing. For quick-service and table service restaurants you can reference your My Disney Experience App. For buffets, I usually call the Disney Dining line directly since the website gives a range. Buffets are priced higher during peak seasons and are more for dinner than lunch or breakfast.
Get the best bang for your buck going to a great place to dine, my friend over at Disney Trippers has shared 33 of the best Disney restaurants and also ones to avoid!
23. Share meals to save money. You cannot share buffet meals, but other meals you can share. Several quick-service restaurant meal portions are big enough to share.
24. It is not line jumping to get in a smaller line. The cashier kiosks at the quick service restaurants have a line on each side. Plus each restaurant has several kiosks. Look for the one with the shortest line. Another way to save time is with mobile ordering through the MDE app.
25. Eat some meals in your room. This is easiest and more convenient if you are driving but, if you are flying in it is still possible. You can order food from Amazon and have it delivered to your resort. You can also use a grocery delivery service like Garden Grocer. Another option is to grab an Uber or Lyft and go to the closest Publix or Walmart and pick up items yourself. All rooms come with a mini-fridge.
26. Plan your meals to coincide with special events. Certain resorts offer spectacular views of the nearby parks’ fireworks or the Electrical Water Pageant. I love the California Grill for watching the Happily Ever After Fireworks!
27. 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.
28. Go resort hopping. A lot of the resorts have wonderful photo opps. The monorail resorts have some really special experiences, especially during the holidays.
- 10 Disney Resort Hopping Tips
- Easter Egg Display at the Grand Floridian
- Hula Dancing at the Polynesian
- The Gingerbread House at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
29. Tip Mousekeeping Daily. Most hotels and resorts have housekeepers and I never have tipped them before. Disney has mousekeepers. At Disney I tip 1-2 dollars per person/per day. Sometimes, but not always Mousekeeping will make towel animals, leave extra toiletries if you ask nicely, and other nice treats for your room. Since they offer those extra perks, I tip.
30. Decorate your resort room windows with pictures, posters, and stuffed animals. Let your kids create the decorations ahead of time and bring them with you to make your arrival more exciting.
31. 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!
General Park Tips
33. 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.
34. 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.
35. 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.
36. Take a screenshot of your MDE schedule and set it as your home screen on your phone. This way you don’t waste battery pulling up the app. You also have quick access to it if it is your home screen.
37. 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.
38. Get the 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.
39. 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.
40. 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!
41. Say No to Park Hopper Tickets. There is so much to do in each park. Park hopping is not needed and adds extra cost.
42. 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.
Magic Kingdom Tips
43. Don’t miss the Castle Welcome Show. It sets the tone for the day. You can grab a Starbucks coffee on your way to the castle stage!
44. Get an early (before the park opens) breakfast reservation to take pictures on an empty Main Street.
45. Get your first 3 Fastpasses for Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Splash Mountain. If one of those is not on your list, Peter Pan’s Flight or Big Thunder Mountain also have long waits.
46. Watch the Festival of Fantasy Parade in Adventureland or Frontierland. These areas are a lot less crowded and increase your chances of having a magical interaction!
47. Priority Character Meet & Greets at the Magic Kingdom. Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida, Cinderella, Elena of Avalor, Tinkerbell, Stitch, Peter Pan, Magician Mickey Mouse, and the Fairy Godmother are characters that are only at the Magic Kingdom. You can see Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother at 1900 Park Fair lunch or dinner as well.
48. Get a haircut. Everyone, not just little ones can get a haircut at the Harmony Barbershop for about $20.
49. Ride the Rails. Save your feet and ride the Walt Disney World Railroad. The train stops at the Main Street Station, Adventureland, and the Storybook Circus. You can also rest a little on the train by riding a few times around the park. Ride while you can the Walt Disney Railroad will not be running for a lengthy refurbishment starting December 2018. Starting December 2018 you can get some neat photos with the engine at the Main Street Station.
50. During parade get down Main Street through the gift shops. Start at the Emporium and you can walk all the way through to Casey’s Corner missing all the crowds. Plus, it is air conditioned!
51. 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.
52. Best Fireworks Spot. If it is your first time watching, watch in front of the castle on the right side, nearest to Tomorrowland. You get to see Tinkerbell fly!
53. Ride Popular Rides during the Happily Ever After Fireworks. Since most people are watching the fireworks, ride wait times drop significantly.
54. 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!
55. Stay about a half hour past park closing for the Kiss Goodnight. The Kiss Goodnight is a special goodbye message from Disney.
56. Get your Tier 1 Fastpass for Frozen Ever After. Get Mission Space and Spaceship Earth for your other 2, though you might not need them.
57. The World Showcase doesn’t open until 11am, so try to do as much of Future World and The Land as you can from 9am until 11am.
58. Start touring the World Showcase in Canada. Most people start in Mexico.
59. Priority Character Meet & Greets at Epcot. Mulan, Baymax, Joy & Sadness, and Anna & Elsa.
60-70. 10 Tips for Enjoying Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival This festival lasts from September to November and is not to be missed. I love it so much!
71. Save Spaceship Earth for later in the day. Every time we visit Epcot, we see long lines for Spaceship Earth in the morning since it is the first ride you encounter at Epcot. By late afternoon, the lines are non-existent.
Hollywood Studios Tips
72. If the posted wait time on Tower or 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 first ones to leave after preshow.
73. 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!
74. Go to Hollywood Studios if it is a rainy day. Most of the attractions and lines are inside compared to the other parks.
75. 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.
76. 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.
77. Sit in the back of the room for the best views at Disney Junior – Live on Stage. Sitting too close will block a lot of the activity since the stage is high and the characters pop up from the below the stage.
78. Be at the Fantasmic! amphitheater at least thirty minutes before show time. Don’t worry about being bored, there is a fun pre-show to keep you entertained.
79. 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!)
80. Don’t Skip the Improv Shows in the park. The improv teams at Hollywood Studios are some of the best I have seen. They are so funny, and they involve guests so you can be part of the fun. Plus, since they are improv you can see the same act several times and get a different laugh.
Animal Kingdom Tips
81. Use the secret entrance. There is a second, lesser-known entrance to the theme park at the rear of the Rainforest Cafe gift shop.
82. Do Kilimanjaro Safari in the morning and at dusk. Animals are more active during this time.
83. Take a parent break at the Boneyard. The Boneyard and dig site is a giant play zone in DinoLand U.S.A. that’s ideal for kids to let off some steam and run around and have fun.
84. Get your first 3 Fastpasses for Kilimanjaro Safari, Expedition Everest, and Avatar Flight of Passage.
85. Don’t get Fastpasses for the shows. All of the seats in the theaters are great for viewing.
86. 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.
87. Priority Character Meet & Greets at Animal Kingdom. Russel, DiVine, Tarzan, Pocahontas, Rafiki, and Animal Kingdom is the only place to get a picture with Mickey and Minnie together!
88. Don’t feed the animals. Each species is on a special diet that can be seriously harmed by careless visitors.
89. Avoid Animal Kingdom on rainy days. There is not much to do on rainy days at the Animal Kingdom.
90.Make advanced lunch reservations at Tusker house for between 1pm and 4pm and you’ll receive priority seating for the 3:15 Nemo show.
Disney Springs Tips
91. 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!
92. Check out the Performing Arts Schedule. Several times throughout the day dance teams, choirs, drama teams, orchestras, and bands perform on the stage. These performances are completely free. The stage is located near the Lego store and the World of Disney Store. Get to the performances a little early to grab a seat under the covered seating area.
93. 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 or worry about your next fastpass+.
94. Pin Trade at the Pin Hut.
95. 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.
96. Take the ferry. If you want to cut over from the West Side to the Marketplace and you don’t want to walk, you can take the ferry from the West Side Marina to the Marketplace Marina near Cap’n Jacks.
97. 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.
98. 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!
99. 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!
100. 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)
101. 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.
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