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Guide to Walt Disney World Signs

Guide to Walt Disney World Signs

How can paying attention to Disney signs, announcements, and Cast Members translate into shorter wait times and better overall experience?  Glad you asked that! Let’s take a look at how that works.

Approaching the Park:

Do not stop your car when you see the welcome sign over the road to take a picture. There have been serious crashes here because of that, and you only delay everyone from getting into the park. Look around; there are “DO NOT STOP here” signs all over the place.  The reason: your safety and the safety of other guests. There are plenty of places to take your photos inside the parks so please take your photos at the entrance to the park as you enter.

If you are driving, watch the Cast Member’s who are directing you on where to park and park where they tell you. Don’t ask for a space closer to the tram, you only slow things down and they aren’t going to let you do that anyway. Every guest is special, but none more special than another.  After exiting your vehicle, with all of your belongings you want to take, and any remaining valuables hidden from view in the car, step away from the area you just drove in.  Walk to the roadway in front of your car.  That takes you away from the path of traffic and helps with loading the parking lot more quickly.   Head for the tram, but if you can see the front of the park, just walk, it may be faster.

Stay behind the yellow line, as the sign says and the Cast Members tell you, otherwise the tram cannot stop and pick you up, or they cannot leave because someone is too close to the tram after final boarding has been called.  Write down your parking lot name and row number so you can quickly find your car at the end of the evening. The Cast Member on the back of the tram will tell you where you just got on and remind you to make note of it. Remember you can get onto the tram only after your stroller is completely folded.  Supervise your children here. If you have a child standing on the yellow line, or in front of it, the tram cannot move out or pull up.  This will only delay you in getting in to the Park. Pay attention to what the Cast Member says on your tram ride, they give valuable information.

For Bag Check, have your bag off of your body and all the pockets, zippers, snaps, open and place it on the table.  The Security Cast Member will alternate from left to right sides of the table when looking at bags.  Once your bag is inspected, move away from the area to not impede flow.  You can wait for your party, just not in the way of steady movement through there.  If you have a stroller and diaper bag, get those bags up on the table and opened up.  Yes they will also check the stroller.   If you do not have a stroller, make sure you don’t get behind one, or a string of them as it takes much longer to check all those bags and pockets than a single bag.  Follow this and you will breeze through bag check.

Entering the Park

Once inside, grab a Times Guide and Map.  Check over it quickly to see if there is anything new or a special Limited Time Magic event that day. This will save you time later when you are wondering what is going on and where or what to eat.

If you have a guest with a disability, stop at the Guest Services at the front of the park.  They will explain the assistance program for you.

Take a photograph of all your tickets, if you have them, because it will be easier to replace them if lost or stolen. You want to photograph the number/name/information that is specific to you, in a readable form.

Decide what ride you want a FastPass ticket for and let one fast person in your party run and get them, taking all your tickets with them, and plan on where to meet up with them.  This may get you a Fast Pass for the most popular rides that run out of passes very early after the Park opening.

Approaching the Attraction:

Look at the Warning sign, the height requirement sign, and the attraction itself.  Some rides give you a good look at what to expect.  Let’s look at Splash Mountain as an example.  There are two places to view the ride, before entering the queue, and one inside the queue.  You can see that it is a water ride, and yes, you will get wet.  That’s why the name is Splash Mountain.  (Expect to get wet on any water ride) You can see that some people even wear ponchos.  We can discern that we will need to take our backpacks off before we step into the boat, and if we want to wear a poncho on the ride, we should put that on before stepping onto the boat. We can see each row sits two average adults or up to three smaller persons, and can decide who is riding with who before you getting split up to fit in the boat. There is a height requirement, and if we know what our children’s heights are we can know before they are measured if they can ride safely.  Don’t try to override this because it exists for your child’s safety.  Encourage the ones who are not tall enough that they will probably get to ride it on the next visit.  So if you have a child that is not tall enough, plan who will stay with him/her and ask the Cast Member at the entrance for a rider switch card. One parent can ride, and then the other parent can ride right after the first parent gets off the ride.  Don’t treat the Cast Member badly because your child is not tall enough.  This slows the line down and does not do any good.

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If your child is afraid of the ride, take the time to explain to him/her what the ride will be like.  If they are in tears about riding it, it may be better for them to wait until the next visit to Disney.  You can always use the Rider Switch feature, if available, to ride, and you will have a happier child.  They may be the first one to want to ride that attraction the next time you visit.

Look at the signs that tell you FastPass time over the FastPass ticket machines.  This means if you get a FastPass right then you will be able to enter the FastPass line at that time.  Does this time fit your plan for the day? Also look at the Standby Entrance for the current wait time.  Sometimes the wait time is longer going through the Standby line than if you got a FastPass.  Sometimes the Standby wait time may be 10 minutes or less so just go through Standby.  If you have a Magic Band, have all your party together before entering the FastPass line because you will just hold everyone up until you get the group together.  Save time by keeping everyone together.  You may have a third option on some rides: Single Rider line, such as at Test Track in Epcot.  The Single Rider line also shows a wait time which is usually pretty low, and sometimes faster than FastPass.  Note: your party will be split up on the ride, so if you have anyone who does not want to ride alone with other people, don’t choose this option.

Finish your food and drink prior to getting into a line.  Take a bathroom break prior to getting in line.

Look for the designated stroller parking area for that attraction, each one has this.  Don’t assume that those strollers parked in front of the entrance are the designated spot, ask a Cast Member. Or look for where a Cast Member is moving strollers to.  There is often a rope in the stroller area and there is a Cast Member always assigned to moving strollers parked where they are not supposed to be, to where they are supposed to be.  When you come out of the attraction your stroller will be in the designated stroller area and you will be quicker at moving onto the next attraction if you don’t have to go hunt down where your stroller was moved to.

If you are on an ECV and need to get out of it to ride the attraction, do not: leave it parked at the entrance to the ride, or the exit, or chain/lock it to anything.  Find out where to park it and you will know where it is when you exit the attraction.  This is faster for you to move on to the next attraction, and courteous to others. If you park your ECV and you feel it is too far from the ride boarding area, most attractions have wheelchairs available to use.

If you are in a wheelchair, you will need to take all your bags off of it and take them on the ride with you.  The wheelchair assist Cast Members need to be able to fold up your wheelchair, and the other guest’s wheelchairs too, in order to move them to the unload area for the ride.

In Line for the ride

Pay attention to the signs and announcements made by Cast Members.  Stay up with the group in front of you. Keep your group together. Make sure you know how many are in your party and decide who your seat mate(s) will be.  This will keep you moving steadily and having that information will help you get on the ride much quicker.

Do not sit/hang on, jump over, or swing the chains or ropes in the line, same for your children. Do not sit on walls, or other items in the queue, or allow your children to.  This is a safety issue and one of courtesy.  You don’t want to spend the day in the emergency room if you/your child gets hurt. Please supervise your children. (I have seen them literally climbing a wall and the parent is on their Smartphone or ipad, not paying any attention to their child.)  This time in the line is a good opportunity to bond with your kids.  Don’t miss time to interact with them.  Look for hidden Mickey’s, decide what you will ride next, or when you want to eat, talk about the theming of the queue area.  Have fun with your children.  If you can see the ride, talk about that.

Please do not leave trash in the queue.  You are rarely more than a couple dozen steps to a trashcan anywhere in the Parks.

Remember: get back packs off and ponchos on during this time

Approaching the Cast Member who will group you onto the ride

Tell the Cast Member how many in your party, if it is loud say it and use fingers to show it if you can. Do not rush past the Cast Member, they will tell you when to proceed.  Listen to what the Cast Member tells you, and treat them courteously.  They are fully trained on this ride and know how many will fit on the ride vehicle better than you do, don’t argue with them as it only slows things down.  Don’t change rows after you are placed.  If you have a special request, like you want to be in the front row, just ask the Cast Member as it can probably be granted.

Have your FastPass ready. The Cast Member may give you a red card on a black neck strap.  They call this a FLIK card and it is used to determine the current wait time.   Hand it to the Cast Member as you are placed in ride vehicle area, prior to getting on ride or into the attraction. They are not a free souvenir; please give them back to a Cast Member.  This card is used to make the wait time on the sign in the front more accurate.

Getting on a Ride

When the gate opens, make sure you board quickly.  Do not stand in the gate and take a photo of your family in the ride vehicle.

Don’t ask the Cast Member for a towel to dry the seat on a water ride, just get in because you are going to get wet anyway.

Don’t ask the Cast Member to hold your backpack or other item for you as you board the ride; that only slows things down and they cannot do that.

Step immediately into the ride vehicle, then don’t get up, stand up, move around in the vehicle.  This is very important as the vehicle cannot move if you are moving around or standing in it.  Do not get out of the ride vehicle once you board it, until you are asked to.  Keep arms, hands, legs, and feet inside the ride at all times. Take your hat off, especially ears, if you are riding a water ride/thrill ride.

On every ride that is inside, or for the part of it that is inside (i.e. Splash Mountain), do not take flash photographs. (This is also true of night parades.) This is usually in the repeated announcement where you get into the ride vehicle but many people don’t listen.  It may not slow the ride down, but it does ruin the experience.  Those photos are going to look bad.  Enjoy the ride, and let everyone else enjoy the ride, that the Imagineers worked so hard to create for us.  Flashing lights can trigger physical responses in some people such as: migraine headaches, seizures, and temporary blindness. If you want photos of the rides for your scrapbooks, there are many taken by professionals that you can get online. You can use the Park maps themselves, or purchase postcards in the Parks for pictures of the rides.  You are too far away from the parade floats for most flashes to reach anyway, so don’t ruin the after-dark parades for everyone across the street from you that can now only see the white light from your flash.  Be courteous. If you see others taking flash photographs on a ride, don’t take this as permission for you to do the same, use the opportunity to ask them not to do it, courteously.  It seems there are always some people that think the experience is only for them and they will do as they please.

Pull down any lap bars or fasten seat belts.  Be ready to pull on the yellow handle that shows the Cast Member you have fastened your seat belt correctly.  The ride will not advance if you do not do this.

Don’t assume you are going to ride again and stay in the vehicle when it comes back.  Move safely and quickly out of the ride vehicle when you are asked to.

If the ride stops, listen to the announcements made by a Cast Member.  They will give you an explanation of what is happening, and tell you to not get out of the ride vehicle.  Evacuations are rare, but they sometimes occur.  If all the lights come on, that is an indication that something out of the ordinary is happening.  Do not get out of the vehicle.  Wait for Cast Members to come in person and tell you what to do.  There is an order of how things happen in an evacuation that is designed for your safety.  If you are evacuated “back stage”, meaning an area that guests normally won’t see, do not take photographs.

Take all of your belongings with you when you exit a ride.

Do not expect to take your morning coffee into the attraction.  Do not eat or drink on the ride, especially popcorn.  A Cast Member will have to stop the ride vehicle to clean up your trash or popcorn you spilled.  That will slow down the ride movement.  Please tell the Cast Member when you get out of the vehicle if someone got sick or went to the bathroom in the vehicle so it can be removed/cleaned.

Getting into other Attractions/Shows

Please move all the way down in the row you entered.  There are a lot of people entering the same show as you and you need to move all the way down to fill in all of the seats.  Don’t pick your seats out of the middle and expect everyone else to walk around you to fill in the remaining seats.  This isn’t a first come first served situation, like a movie theater, so move all the way down.  If you don’t, a Cast Member will have to make announcements asking you to do what you were already asked to do: move down.  This delays the show for you and everyone else.  Be courteous.

If you are lucky enough to get into a special event, such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, hold your bag open and up to the level of the Cast Members hand.  This makes it easier for the Cast Member to put more candy in your bag!

Wrap UP

As you can see by all these specific examples, paying attention to the signs, announcements, and cast members, can actually help you move through an attraction more quickly and safely.  It also enhances your experience and you will have a nicer day in the Parks. It enhances the experience of others around you too.   This may seem like a long list of rules, blah, blah, blah to some people, but it is really just common sense, courteous behavior, and smart.

By Cassie

About Cassie

Cassie L. I am a lifelong Disney fan. I attended Walt Disney World in 1971, and was there during the opening week of EPCOT, and have visited the Disney Parks for than 30 times. I have had the privilege of visiting Disneyland as a child, and then again with my children. My family recently moved from the northeastern United States to the Walt Disney World area. I now have cast members in my family and enjoy hearing the magical stories at the end of a shift. I love visiting all of the parks and getting to try more Disney food and being able to share it with you to help you plan your own magical day at Disney.