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Top 20 Tips & Secrets for Your Walt Disney World Vacation

The more you visit Walt Disney World, the more you’ll learn.  Sure, sometimes what you learn will be exactly how many hours of walking your feet can take before they start aching, but you’ll also learn valuable information that you can put to use on your next WDW trip.  Here are some of the top tips and secrets we’ve learned after years (and years) of vacations at Walt Disney World!

1. Free Ice Water

Trying to beat the Orlando heat?  Head to any quick service restaurant at any Walt Disney theme park for a cup of complimentary ice water.  You’ll save money and the environment by not buying bottled water.

2. Resort Day

Try to set aside a day (or part of a day) to explore all your Disney resort has to offer, from pools to jogging trails to special activities.  This is especially important if you’re spending the big bucks for a deluxe resort!

3. Recharge

A long day in the parks can deplete any cell phone battery!  Bring a charging cable, as there are several spots throughout Disney property where you can recharge your devices; just ask a cast member to point you in the right direction.

4. FastPass+

You can book your FastPasses+ 60 days before your stay if you’re staying on Disney property (30 days, if you’re not).  Popular FastPasses+ will disappear fast, so mark your calendar!

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5. Magical Express

If you’re staying on property, take advantage of the free Magical Express round-trip ride from the airport to your resort.  Cast members will take care of your luggage, and you’ll ride in style!

6. Pixie Dust

If you’re not adverse to glitter, head to The Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street USA, where your little ones can be sprinkled with complimentary “pixie dust” and hair confetti to make their day even more magical.  You’ll also find “pixie dust” at Castle Couture in Fantasyland.

7. Go Wild

No matter where you’re staying, you can head to the viewing platforms at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge to watch the animals on the savanna – for free.  Watch at night, with the provided night vision goggles, for more fun!

8. Chew Away

If you can’t go through a day without chewing gum, make sure you bring your own to Walt Disney World; you won’t find any for sale on property.

9. Special Occasion?

If you’re celebrating a special event (anything from a birthday to or anniversary to a personal triumph!), make sure you make a note of it in your dining reservations and tell a cast member when you check in.  You’ll get a special occasion button, and other fun perks!

10. Know When to Go

To escape the worst of the crowds at Walt Disney World, avoid visiting during holidays or school vacations, as these times are always the most crowded.  You can consult the Disney World Crowd Calendar online to find out the best dates to visit.

11. Dining Reservations

Book your dining reservations 180 days before your stay, especially for popular restaurants.  But if you end up without reservations, it’s still worth trying day of, in case of cancellations.

12. Rider Switch

If your little one isn’t big enough to ride an attraction – or just doesn’t want to – there’s no reason for you to miss it!  Use the Rider Switch option that lets parents ride one at a time, while the other parent waits with the kids.

13. Don’t Sleep In

To beat the crowds, arrive before the park opens, so that you’re ready when rope drop happens.  Mid-day is the busiest time of day at the parks, so this is a great time for a meal or show.

14. Skip the Parade

It may sound sacrilegious, but if you’ve seen the parade before, skip it.  This is one of the best times to get in line for a busy ride, or visit a normally crowded shop, because everyone will be watching the parade!

15. Check That Receipt

If you check your receipts before tossing them, you may find coupons for discounts at other locations (for example, 10% off Disney Springs purchases).  It’s always worth a look!

16. PhotoPass

For the perfect shot, get a PhotoPass Cast Member to take a photo of your family using your camera.  They’ll be happy to do this, and you won’t pay a thing!

17. Ride the Rails

Even if you’re not staying at a resort on the monorail line, it’s worth taking the monorail to do some resort hopping. It’s free, you’ll see some stunning resorts, and you might even get ideas for your next stay!

18. Join a Class

Want to learn to draw like a Disney animator?  Check out the free, daily drawing classes held at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.  You don’t even have to be staying at this resort to participate!

19. Take Your Time After Park Close

Return bus service to Disney resorts from the theme parks extends until 2 hours after a park closes.  So just because a park has closed, you don’t need to join the throngs of guests making a beeline for the exit!  You can take a stroll to admire the park at night, or even do some shopping (many shops don’t close right when the park closes).  This way, when you leisurely make your way to the buses, the lines will have diminished.

20. Forgotten Items

If you forgot an item at home or in your room and really need it but can’t find it among the items in a shop, just ask a cast member at a gift shop.  There are an astonishing amount of necessities hiding behind the register!  Whether you need deodorant, a collapsible umbrella, baby supplies, medicine, or even disposable razors, gift shop staff in the parks and at the resorts can probably help you out.

About Stacy Milford

Stacy has lived in 4 countries on 3 continents, and travels whenever humanly possible. Passionate about music theatre, dessert, and adventure in the great wide somewhere, she visits Walt Disney World every year, usually during Halloween! Stacy currently divides her time between writing and teaching English as a second language to children in China, and is pretty sure growing up is over-rated.