Disney World Tips and Tricks
If you’re planning a Disney vacation, it can feel like a lot of work. With four theme parks, two water parks, thirty-four resorts, Fast Passes, Advanced Dining Reservations, the Disney Dining Plan, etc., it’s a lot! I wrote this post with both general Disney World tips and tricks, along with some Hollywood Studios tips and tricks to navigate you through the Disney vacation planning process.
Before we start, let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Amy, and I’m a graduate of the Disney College of Knowledge. I keep up with all of the latest Disney news; it’s my job! If you’re interested in saving money and time by booking with a Certified Disney Travel Agent, make sure to contact me!
General Disney World Tips and Tricks
1. Download the My Disney Experience App
The very first thing you should do (after purchasing your tickets) is downloading the My Disney Experience App. You can do so many things from the app, including mobile ordering, Fast Pass Reservations, Dining Reservations, viewing ride wait times, and so much more.
2. Make FastPass and Dining Reservations well in advance
You can book dining reservations up to 180 days in advance. Even at 180 days, some dining reservations are still hard to get. Make sure to book your dining reservations as early as possible. Fast Passes can be booked 60 days in advance for Disney Resort guests, and 30 days for those staying off-site. Make sure to book Fast Passes early, but you can always check for last-minute Fast Pass availability too.
3. Consider an annual pass for one member of your party
You can get the benefits of being an annual pass holder even if only one member of your party has an annual pass. Annual pass holders enjoy benefits like lower prices on stays in Disney Resorts, merchandise discounts, and more. It’s worth crunching the numbers to see if this tip will save you money.
4. Take advantage of Single Rider Lines
If your group is made up of adults or older kids, take advantage of Single Rider Lines. Yes, your group will be split up, but you’ll spend most of the time in the queue together. Using the Single Rider Line is a great tip for busy days or when you want to ride as many rides as possible.
5. Take advantage of Rider Switch
If you have little ones, or members of your party who don’t like rides, take advantage of Rider Switch. Everyone waits in line together, and then one adult will ride while one stays with the child. After that, they will switch instead of having to wait all over again. A bonus of this is that Cast Members will often let an older child ride with each parent, giving them the chance to ride twice!
6. Always use Mobile Ordering when available
Long lines? Not a problem. Always use Mobile Order (through the My Disney Experience App) when it’s available. Disney is adding new restaurants to Mobile Order all the time, so make sure to check before waiting in line.
7. Consider booking with a Disney Certified Travel Agent
I’ll talk more about this below, but consider using a certified Disney Travel Agent to book your vacation. This one tip can save so much time and money by using an expert to plan your trip.
8. Purchase Disney Gift Cards with a Target RedCard
You can purchase Disney Gift Cards with a Target RedCard and save 5%! Gift cards are great for setting a budget for souvenirs or food purchases.
9. Know if the Disney Dining Plan is right for you or not
The Disney Dining Plan can save money, but it isn’t right for everyone. If you have vegetarians or light eaters in your group, the Disney Dining Plan might not save you any money at all. It’s also worth noting that not everyone has to be on the Dining Plan. You can order food for anyone, whether they’re on the Disney Dining Plan or not. So it might be worth it to purchase the plan for three people and split it with your group of 4 or 5 if you have light eaters.
10. Never pack rack rate for a hotel
Disney is almost always running promotions, so never pay rack rate (full price) for your hotel room. Make sure to contact me for current promotions.
11. Adults can order kids meals at counter service restaurants
Did you know that adults can order kids meals at counter service restaurants? This generally will not work at Table Service Restaurants, but adults can almost always order kids meals at counter service, even if the menu says 3-9.
12. You CAN bring your own snacks (but don’t bring ice!)
You can bring your own snacks into Disney World, but Disney has a new rule about ice. Don’t bring bags of ice; it’s not allowed anymore. Instead, buy some reusable ice packs to bring in your cooler.
13. Bring a poncho or umbrella
Disney World is in Florida, and rain is inevitable, so make sure to bring ponchos or an umbrella. Purchase these items ahead of time because they are pricey at the parks.
14. Bring your water bottle
You can ask for a cup of water at any quick-service dining location. You can either pour this into a reusable cup or use the new filling stations (more are being added all the time) to fill your water bottles. I love my Hydroflask and take it everywhere.
15. Make sure to schedule a day or two of downtime
Disney World can be a lot, especially for small kids. Make sure to schedule a day or two of downtime. Disney Resorts are wonderful destinations on their own, so it’s worth it to spend a day or two exploring your resort (or any other Disney Resort!)
16. Refillable Drink Mugs and Refillable Popcorn Buckets can be a great deal
The refillable mugs and popcorn buckets can be a great deal if those are items that you intend to purchase anyway. Make sure to purchase them at the beginning of your trip.
17. Schedule FastPasses for later in the day
Not everyone will show up at rope drop (park opening), so make sure to arrive early and take advantage of shorter lines. Schedule your FastPasses for later when the parks get busier.
18. Head to the popular rides during the fireworks or parade
Riding popular rides during the fireworks or parade is a great idea as most people are watching the fireworks or parade and not riding rides.
19. *Or* watch the second parade when available
If a second parade is an option, watch that and spend the time during the first parade riding rides.
20. Buy glowy things in advance
It’s tempting to buy glow sticks or light-up toys at Disney. Save yourself a lot of money and buy things like glow sticks or even glow paint (available on Amazon, not in the parks!) in advance
21. Don’t forget that you can always schedule more FastPasses
Once you’ve used your FastPasses, you can schedule more. You can keep scheduling FastPasses until they’re out, or the park is closing.
22. Don’t wear new shoes
Make sure to bring shoes that are broken in and comfortable. I like Teva Tirra sandals, but wear whatever is comfortable for you and not brand new, ouch!
23. Bring your own straws
Disney has launched a lot of new green initiatives, which is awesome! However, some people aren’t a fan of the new paper straws. You can avoid any issues with paper straws by bringing your own stainless steel or silicone straws.
Hollywood Studios Tip and Tricks
Hollywood Studios can be hard to navigate right now with so many Fast Passes being tier 1, but don’t worry; I’m here to help. I’ll be sharing more park-specific tips in the future, but for now, let’s talk about Hollywood Studios.
24. Everyone is currently heading to Galaxy’s Edge, so go somewhere else!
Galaxy’s Edge is new and exciting, so head to other parts of the park at park opening and go to Galaxy’s Edge later.
25. Don’t forget to register 4-12-year-olds for the Jedi Training Academy (sorry, adults!)
Don’t forget that registration is required for the Jedi Training Adacemony. Sorry adults, this is for kids 4-12 only. I know, I’m disappointed too.
26. Ask to be the Pilot on the Millenium Falcon.
The Pilot is, by far, the best spot on the ride, so make sure to request it if you can.
27. The Jawas will trade with you – bring something that you don’t mind giving away.
This lesser-known tip is a lot of fun, bring something small to trade with the Jawas.
28. Make reservations early for Oga’s Canteen and Building a Lightsaber
Make sure to make those reservations as soon as possible, up to 180 days in advance.
29. Keep checking for last-minute Fast Passes for popular rides like Slinky Dog Dash.
Last-minute Fast Passes can and do show up, so keep refreshing the My Disney Experience App to find them.
30. Rockin Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror Line tip
Head toward the wall with the door after the line merges into the smaller room. When the door opens, you’ll be at the front of the line. Yes, just like on Escape from Gringott’s at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Booking your Disney Vacation
Planning a Disney vacation is a lot harder than it sounds! In my opinion, it’s one of the hardest vacations to plan. Between dining reservations, Fast Passes, figuring out where to stay, whether or not you need a car, it’s a lot!
One of the best Disney World Tips that I can give you is to book with a Disney Certified Travel Agent – like me! Booking with a Disney Travel Agent will save a lot of time and money. Here are the types of things that I do as a Disney Travel Agent:
- Itinerary Planning
- Helping figure out which dining plan is best for you (if any!)
- Helping with Advanced Dining Reservations
- Fast Pass Recommendations
- Tips on how to make the best use of the My Disney Experience App
- Making sure that you get the most current promotions to save you money!
If booking with a Disney Travel Agent sounds like the right thing for your family, make sure to contact me! Better yet, go ahead and fill out my custom travel request form and let’s start planning your epic Disney World vacation.
DIY your Disney Planning
If you plan to DIY your vacation, I understand that too! I highly recommend buying your tickets through Undercover Tourist if you choose not to use a Travel Agent. There are a lot of really scammy sites out there, so make sure you’re booking through an approved partner (like Undercover Tourist,) or an approved Travel Agent!
If you plan to stay off property, I recommend checking out Expedia to see what is available in the Orlando area outside of the Disney Resorts.
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