After a recent trip to Walt Disney World (my first!), I picked up on some tips and tricks on navigating the energy packed parks. While some of these tips come from my boyfriend and I simply taking in our surroundings and looking for opportunities, others come from the fact that my friend, who happens to work at Disney, served as somewhat of a tour guide (lucky us!).
The Park Hopper
The Park Hopper pass is the number one essential that you must get when purchasing tickets for Walt Disney World. It allows for travel between the four parks- Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios- within the same day. So, for instance, you could go to Magic Kingdom in the morning to ride Splash Mountain and visit Ariel, and then head over to Epcot in the evening to visit the countries and watch the fireworks.
You even have the option to add the water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, for a little extra. The flexibility of the Park Hopper option makes this a popular choice for guests. We found it freeing and exciting that we had so many options- it truly felt like we were privy to some sort of secret!
Fast Passes are exactly what they sound like- a speedier way to get on a ride or into a show. For each ride and show there are two lines – the regular line and the fast pass line. Above each is a display that shows guests how long the wait is. Guests then have the choice to get a fast pass by using their park ticket in the fast pass distribution machine. The fast pass will let you know what time to come back (ex. 10:30am to 11:30am), and once it’s time you simply hand your ticket to the cast member waiting at the entrance and proceed through the fast pass line. You’ll still have to wait a little bit, but it will save you from having to wait in too long of a line.
We got fast passes a couple of times and used our waiting time to have snacks, browse the gifts shops, and ride rides with shorter wait times. Extra tip: Fast Passes do run out, so if you see that you are too late to grab one take a deep breath and relax. You’re in Walt Disney World!
When it rains, don’t just stand there! Have some fun!
As travelers from the Midwest we weren’t aware of how the weather works in Florida. Often it will rain for short periods or time, stop, and then rain again. We came across this almost every day that we were visiting Walt Disney World. Our philosophy, however, was to take advantage of the situation and not get upset.
We weren’t going to waste our trip hiding under awnings or in gift shops like many of our fellow visitors. We purchased ponchos (which they sell in the gift shops for $7) and carried them with us every day (if you’re looking to save money, be sure to bring some ponchos or umbrellas from home). We then made a plan and ran to the nearest indoor ride or show, and continued to do so until the rain had stopped. The lines were shorter than usual as many had decided to leave the parks, and we got prime seats for Mickey’s Philharmonic 3-D show. Of course you could use this time to grab a bite to eat, but don’t try to shop at this time as people tend to pack the gift shops like sardines in a too tight can. Extra tip: Don’t leave the parks when it starts raining. Knowing Florida weather it’ll eventually stop (most of the rain showers we encountered lasted less than an hour).
A plus about having a friend that works at Disney is that they can tell you things that might not occur to you otherwise. Here are just a few of the helpful hints our friend gave us, along with tricks that we figured out on our
-When about to be seated for the Kilimanjaro Safari ride in Animal Kingdom request to sit in the back of the vehicle. This will allow you better photo options of the animals and the scenery without a bunch of strangers’ heads in the way. You might have to wait until the next vehicle, but they come very quickly so it’s about a minute extra wait.
-When in Epcot, watch the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth fireworks show from the country side for better views.
-Be sure to take advantage of your Extra Magic Hours if staying at a Walt Disney Resort hotel. These apply to different parks each day, so you’ll want to get a schedule from your hotel or one of the parks.
– When in the Magic Kingdom, watch the nightly parade, Spectromagic, from the ramps leading up to the castle. We had a great view and there were only two other people standing there!
-Take advantage of the Photopass photographers that are stationed at each park. They stand in designated spots (marked on your park map), and will snap your picture for free and place it on a card that you can take home with you. You can then look at your photos online and see if you’d like to order any of them.
-If looking to save a few bucks, split a meal with whoever you are with. We did this and found that it was the smarter decision for us as we could save money and we didn’t end up overly full.
-If buying a balloon for your child, buy it on your way back to your hotel. Balloons and rides don’t mix.
-If you make a purchase at one of the gift shops, be aware that you have the option to have it sent to your hotel for free for pickup the next day. That way you don’t have to lug around a bag the whole day.
-Watch out for strollers- they are sometimes used as weapons by irritated parents.
-Figure out what you want to do before hand, but stay flexible since things can change.
-Keep your cool. You’re in Disney World- you should enjoy it!