Visiting the vacation capital of the world a lot means that I’ve picked up some really helpful information along the way. Most of these tips are not exactly secrets, but just disregarded by casual visitors.
8. Select Fastpass+ (and Select the Right Attractions!)
The change from the old paper fastpass system to the new digital Fastpass+ linked to a Magicband happened well years ago, yet many inexperienced visitors know nothing about it. The Fastpass itself works the same, giving guests an hour-long window to access the Fastpass queue. Guests can choose three attractions each day before they even leave home. Visitors staying at one of Disney’s hotels can reserve Fastpass+ as early as 60 days before they check in. Guests staying off-property can book Fastpass+ 30 days ahead of time. Either way, making Fastpass+ selections can be done on the Disney World Website (find it under the My Disney Experience tab) or on the My Disney Experience app. Additionally, you want to research which attractions are worth selecting for FastPass+ and which usually don’t have a long enough wait to warrant it.
Making Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) is important, especially if you want to eat at the most popular restaurants at Walt Disney World, like Cinderella’s Royal Table, Chef Mickey’s, California Grill, or Be Our Guest. All guests can make dining reservations 180 days ahead of time. A classic mistake is waiting to book these or not booking them at all and hoping to walk up and get a table. The latter is not possible at many of the popular restaurants.
6. Be There Early
This tip is especially important for Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios which have tiers on the Fastpass+ selections. That means, guests can only pre-select a fastpass for one attraction in Tier 1, and two attractions is Tier 2. For example, both Soarin’ and Test Track are Tier 1 at Epcot, meaning guests cannot reserve a Fastpass for both attractions prior to arrival. So, if you want to experience both attractions with minimal wait, the solution is to arrive before the park opens. Let’s say you have a Fastpass for Soarin, but not Test Track. When the park opens, head straight to Test Track to ride it before the wait times grow long.
5. Rider Switch
Many guests don’t know about this amazing system! Rider switch is ideal for families with multiple children, and of varying heights. If a child is too short, or too frightened to ride a particular attraction, then ask the Cast Member at the queue entrance about rider switch. One parent can ride with the kids tall enough, then the next parent and kids can go through the Fastpass queue and the kiddos can experience it again. Meanwhile, the parent not riding stays with the littlest one.
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4. Resort Restaurants
So often, guests fail to fully explore everything the Walt Disney World Resort has to offer. While you may dine at restaurants located in the hotel where you are staying, what about trying other restaurants? Take a break from the parks and head over to a nearby hotel to enjoy a relaxing dinner. The Boardwalk area (between Epcot and Hollywood Studios), Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the Magic Kingdom area resorts all offer incredible restaurants worth trying.
3. Firework Viewing
Magic Kingdom’s Main Street USA feels like a can of sardines when it comes time for Happily Ever After. Guests that were previously dispersed all over the park crowd the street to watch the fireworks, thinking that it’s the only good view. But, if you don’t want to stand shoulder to shoulder with thousands of your new friends, I have two other options for you. One, watch Happily Ever after from Fantasyland (I like to stand by Seven Dwarfs Mine Train), and you’ll be surrounded by the firework bursts. A second choice is the ferry dock at Ticket and Transportation Center, where the Happily Ever After music is played through the speakers, and you can see more of a panoramic firework view.
2. Transportation Time
Don’t underestimate how big Walt Disney World is, and how long it will take you to get place to place. I like to err on the safe side and give myself at least an hour to get anywhere. That means, if I want to be at Magic Kingdom for rope drop at 9am, I drag my family kicking and screaming down to the bus stop by 8am. If we’re driving ourselves that morning, I make them leave closer to 7:45am, just to make sure we can get through the parking lot line, ride the tram to Ticket and Transportation, and take the Ferry or Monorail to the actual park.
1. Bring Your Own Snacks
Guests can totally bring snacks and drinks into the park, no sneaking required. The only things that are not allowed are glass containers, alcohol, and large, hard sided coolers. Your sandwich baggies full of trail mix, pretzels, and raisins will get past security with no issues!
I hope one (or more!) of these tips will help you have an even more magical Disney World vacation!