Walt Disney World has so many things to see, do and experience that it’s difficult to be strategic in planning your activities for each day of your visit. While there are guides, park maps and the My Disney Experience App to help you decide what you would like to do, there are some insider tips that you only learn after a few trips.
Also, it’s worth noting that the things about Walt Disney World that appeal to everyone might be different from person to person. While some people prefer the thrill of the attractions, others would rather enjoy the shows, the dining or the atmosphere. So with that being said, here is a general list of 7 things that Disney insiders do when visiting Walt Disney World
7. Watch The Second Show
In the peak visiting seasons, some of the major nighttime shows and events will run twice. During the busy season, Fantasmic over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will run twice a night. When there are two different times to catch a show, it will almost always be less crowded in the second time slot. Since most families spend the full day at the park, the first show is the easiest for them to see, leaving them enough time to go back to the resort or hotel at a decent time. That’s why the first shows are much more crowded. If you would still like to see the show and don’t mind staying out a little bit later, attending the second show is likely going to give you a better seat and a less crowded view.
6. Dining At The Resorts
While the restaurants inside the parks are incredible, there are some equally amazing restaurants at the Disney resorts. Every restaurant on Disney property has a unique theme and an atmosphere that makes for a truly memorable dining experience. In the pursuit of trying something new each time you visit Walt Disney World, the resort restaurants are a great way to see each resort and enjoy a great meal while you’re there.
If you are looking for something quick and fun, the “Kitchen Sink” sundae at the Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at Disney’s Beach Club resort might be the perfect place to rest and relax during the day. Or for something more substantial, the food of ‘Ohana at the Polynesian and Chef Mickey at the Contemporary resort will always make for a great meal. If you prefer fine dining, there is Boma – Flavors of Africa and Jiko – The Cooking Place at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. Of course, the Grand Floridian Resort is home to arguably the finest restaurant Disney offers, in Victoria & Albert’s.
5. Park Hop for Extra Magic Hours
For first-time visitors to Walt Disney World, the Park Hopper option isn’t necessary if you plan on spending the full day in a single park. However, when the park has late night Extra Magic Hours for the resort guests, the crowds tend to be a little heavier during the day leading up to the extended evening. This is usually because, in anticipation of the Extra Magic Hours, more resort guests will plan on visiting the park during the day and just hang around until the nighttime. The Park Hopper option gives you some flexibility in your day-to-day planning where you can avoid that increase in crowds and visit a different park during the day and then bus over to the park that has the Extra Magic Hours. The park will be much less busy and you can still do all the attractions you want to in that time, but you won’t have been battling the crowds in the park all day.
4. Strategic FastPass+ Booking
Everyone plans their FastPass+ selections differently. It’s all about strategy and how you would like to spend your day. For example, some guests like to show up to the parks for rope drop so that they can virtually walk onto the attractions they’d like to ride. In that case, making FastPass+ selections for the late afternoon is a good idea since you can walk onto your rides and then rest easy knowing you won’t have to wait in the queue later in the day. Other guests prefer to book their FastPass+ selections for the morning in anticipation of using them and then booking additional FastPasses while they are in the park. Both strategies have their pros and cons, but both are effective if you plan around those selections.
3. Seeking Out Signature Snacks
After visiting Walt Disney World a few times, guests can begin to develop favorite snack items to eat when visiting. Part of identifying their favorites involve trying a number of different snacks for the sake of trying something new. Seeking out the signature snacks of Walt Disney World is something that every fan should do at some point. To try a Dole Whip, Churro, Cinnamon Roll, Cake Pop, Zebra Dome or any other snack item becomes a task on it’s own. Reading about different snacks and their fan followings make Disney insiders want to try them. Whether it’s a checklist, or as casual as trying a new snack each time you visit, seeking out the signature snacks is something every fan should try.
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2. Open or Close
While the days can be long in the parks, there are major benefits to visiting at either the opening of the park or the closing. Typically the crowds are a lot smaller at rope drop in the morning, where you can walk onto your favorite attractions for the early hours. The same can also be said for the final hours at the park. After the nighttime spectaculars have concluded and the parades have all ended, most guests call it a night and head back to the resorts. Late at night is a prime time to get on rides as everyone is leaving the park. You don’t have to be there for both the opening and the closing (as that can make for a really long day), but it’s beneficial to visit for one or the other to take advantage of the quick access to the attractions.
As you get to know the parks at Walt Disney World you may find that you would like to learn more about the history and details or you’d like a more in-depth experience into the inner workings of each park. Tours are a great way to experience the parks in a brand new way and learn a lot in the process. Whether it’s the Behind The Seeds tour into the Land Pavilion at Epcot, or the Keys to the Kingdom Tour at the Magic Kingdom, there are hidden gems throughout the parks that are even more fascinating when you get a behind the scenes tour from a knowledgeable guide. For the animal lovers, the Wild Africa Trek in Animal Kingdom is also an incredible way to get up-close to the different species in the savannah of Kilimanjaro Safari. Tours are a special way to experience more of the magic at the Walt Disney World parks and the more you learn about them, the more magical they can become.
What are your favorite insider things to do at Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments!