Walt Disney World Tips and Tricks
If you've been following my Walt Disney World series here on this blog, you will know how much I am obsessed with the Disney parks. Like seriously obsessed! I research new Orlando park holidays all the time, and therefore I thought I would share with you today my top tips and tricks for visiting Walt Disney World.
As a side note, obviously this is not an all-inclusive list; there's tons to know and learn about in regards to Walt Disney World, but I figured I would include some of the tips that were most surprising for me to learn, in the hopes of preparing you for your next trip. If you have any tips and tricks you would like to share I'd love to hear them; share them in the comments below!
1. Use Extra Magic Hours as much as possible
Extra Magic Hours are hours that one of the parks is open either in the morning or at night before the advertised opening times. Only guests who are staying at a Disney hotel can go to the park during this time, so there are far less crowds and lines are much shorter.
It seems a no-brainer to use Extra Magic Hours if you are eligible, and it is, but it can be difficult sometimes getting up at 5am to make it to the parks in time. It's completely worth the morning pain though! Push through the early morning start and get to the park!
We used Extra Magic Hours for Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, and both of those days we got through most of the rides we wanted to do before the parks had even opened to the day guests. We walked right on to every ride, and the park was just calmer. It's also the perfect chance to take good pictures since there are less people getting in your way! We got so much done both of these days that we were able to leave the parks for a while and relax elsewhere without missing out on any of the rides we wanted to do.
So if you're a go-getter type on your holidays and like to do as much as possible, embrace the Extra Magic Hours!
2. Push yourself...
For many people, this is the holiday of a lifetime; a one-time experience, so make the most of it! If you're starting to lag, push yourself to do one more ride, or see one more show, you'll regret it if you don't!
One example on my holiday was at the end of the day at Animal Kingdom. We had just seen Rivers of Light and were feeling really tired after an incredibly long day, however there was only one ride in the park we hadn't done - Na'vi River Journey - and it was one we were quite keen to do. We ummed and ahh'd about whether to go back to the hotel, but we pushed ourselved and joined the queue for the ride, and it turned out being the best way to end our day!
Push yourself that little but further to make the most of your once-in-a-lifetime experience.
3. ...But take regular breaks
While it's important to push yourself and make the most of your holiday, you still have to take care of yourself. If you do too much you may not end up enjoying yourself.
We took regular breaks throughout the day. This can be as simple as sitting in a shaded area for 5 minutes. Any time either of us stopped for a toilet break we would use that as a chance to sit for a little while and people watch. We also used our lunch and dinner times as a way to get a break while still experiencing the Disney magic. We often went for quick service lunches, which are quite quick by nature, but made sure to find a nice place to sit so we could rest our feet. We used our dinner time to choose a table service restaurant so we were being served by a waiter and we could sit at the restaurant for quiet a while and reminisce over the day while relaxing and getting our energy back up.
Another tip is to take the time in the middle of the day to go back to your hotel if required. We hadn't scheduled this in, but during our Magic Kingdom day we went back to the hotel for a couple of hours to relax and decompress. I took this time to have an incredibly relaxing bath and I even had a nap! This meant that when I went back to the park I felt completely rejuvinated and ready to do so many more rides and experiences!
4. Venture out of the parks for food
For a theme park, Disney World has incredible food. However there is an entire world of culinary delights waiting for you outside the parks, including in the hotels.
During our trip we had breakfast at the Grand Floridian Cafe which was delicious, and during our Animal Kingdom day we got the bus to the nearby Animal Kingdom Lodge to have lunch at San'aa, which was a highlight of the trip. We didn't get the chance to go, but I know that the Polynesian resort has an amazing family-style restaurant called O'hana.
Take the time, if you have it, to explore the food and entertainment options available to you outside the parks.
5. Use your Fast Passes
If you have a Disney ticket, then you are eligible for Fast Passes. These are passes (believe it or not) that allow you entry into a different queue for rides. This line is shorter and so you get onto the ride significantly quicker. You can start with three Fast Passes (you must book which rides you want them for in advance), and then gain one at a time throughout the rest of the day. There's more to them than that, so I've included a link to more information here.
I knew Fast Passes would be useful before going to the parks, but I couldn't believe how quickly we got onto rides with one. For example, Frozen Ever After is one of the most popular rides in Epcot, and in the whole of Walt Disney World. You can expect at least an hour wait for this one. With our Fast Pass we got on the ride within 10 minutes, and most of that time was just us walking through the empty queue to the front of the line!
Now, you do miss out on some of the details in the regular queue, but I'd say it's worth it if you have a busy day and want to get through as many rides as possible.
6. Uber is your friend
If you want to venture out of the Disney Parks and experience more of Orlando (such as Universal Studios or the city centre) then I cannot recommend Uber enough.
For some, this will be an obvious one, but Uber is not common where I am from, and therefore I had never used it before this trip. We used this company to go to Universal Studios twice, and it was so quick and convenient. Lyft is also available and works closely with Disney.
We also used Uber to go to different parks when we wanted to get there quickly rather than waiting for the Disney buses, and this was also incredibly useful and convenient. It also has the added bonus of getting to meet Floridians outside of the parks. All of our drivers were lovely and told us all about what it's like living in Orlando.
7. Try as many transportation options as possible
On the same note, try as many transportation options as you can around the parks. During our time at Disney we used:
- The Monorail
- Disney Buses
We did not get the chance to go on the Skyliner, and we did not try Disney's Mini Vans, but we loved getting the opportunity to try so many different modes of transportation. It was part of the excitement and build up to be going on so many different vehicles, and it allowed us to see parts of the property we wouldn't otherwise have got to see.
8. Prepare for the heat
And finally, prepare for the heat! Unless you're from a tropical country already, I guarantee you that you're not ready for the heat and the humidity! I'm from a Northern country, and so I'm used to moderate summers and very cold winters. Obviously I knew it was going to be very hot, even in October, but it was very intense!
However the tips above really helped us with this; we used air conditioned transport, we took regular breaks, and we used Extra Magic Hours so we spent a lot of our time in the parks during dawn. Drink lots of water, stick to shaded areas, and you'll be fine!
I hope you found this list useful. As I said, please feel free to share your own tips and tricks in the comments below, and I will see you soon!