135 Super Helpful Disney World Tips

Sunday, May 28, 2017

135 Super Helpful Disney World Tips

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 If you are planning a family vacation to Disney World I've got tons of super helpful Disney World tips and information to help you not only plan, but make the most of your time.
135 super helpful Disney World Tips - lots of great tips and tricks for planning a Disney World vacation including disney dining, general tips, magic kingdom, epcot, hollywood studios, animal kingdom, and resorts. (WDW, WDW planning, family vacation)

Disney World is 40 square miles - that is the size of San Francisco! YIKES!



What that means is that there is LOTS to see, LOTS to do, and LOTS of tips and tricks you need to know about to make the most of your Disney World Vacation.



Here I am sharing 135 super helpful tips, arranged by park/area, to help you get ready for the most magical vacation you can imagine.

Disney World Tips

General Disney World Tips

  1. All parks have bag check/screening – allow extra time and open your bags for inspection (includes kids)
  2. Any location that has a soda machine will happily give you a free cup(s) of water just by asking. Stay hydrated!!
  3. Bring a stroller, Disney is a lot of walking plus it will offer you convenient storage and a seat for your child for parades & fireworks.  
  4. Bring shinny pennies and quarters to make pressed pennies around Disney World – there are several dozen in each park and in resorts too.
  5. Bring a cover for your stroller – it rains a lot in Orlando (many times without warning while you are in a ride)
  6. Buy pins from eBay ahead of time to trade with Cast Members is and save between spending ~$1 per pin and $8-10 per pin. This is not only like a fun scavenger hunt for kids, but is a fun souvenir too.
  7. If your child is too short to ride an attraction make sure to ask about a Ride Swap which will allow the parent that doesn’t ride (and up to 3 children) go on the ride with minimal wait when you get off.
  8. Cast members often rearrange strollers to make them neat and tidy – make sure to put your name on your stroller so you can find it
  9.  Chewing gum is not sold anywhere on Walt Disney World property. Plan accordingly.
  10. Disney Springs is not like Downtown Disney  - it is 50% high end stores, 25% restaurants and 25% classic Disney shopping. Some like it better, but although beautiful, we found it to be overwhelming large to navigate to get to restaurants and Disney shopping like we use to (especially with bus stops at their new location)
  11. Don’t get duped into buying into Disney Vacation Club by the alluring promotions while at Walt Disney World. Wait until you get home, research the Pros and Cons of Disney Vacation Club, and buy via the resale market if you’re going to buy at all. We avoid them like the plague or they will chat your ear off and suck up valuable park time
  12. Employees have stickers!! Just ask
  13. Always make sure to check for ride rehab/closures before you go so your kids aren’t disappointed a favorite ride is closed. I can almost guarantee at least 1-2 rides will be closed during your visit and sometime it is more.
  14. Even if you were at Disney World last year there is always something new/different! New in 2017 is Avatarland, Happily Ever After Fireworks, new dining options, and more!
  15. Every park has a don’t miss evening show. If you are at the park multiple days, see the show/fireworks the first night (to make sure there is no rain to interfere in the show) and then plan to go on rides during the evening show/fireworks the next time and experience much  shorter lines.
  16. Florida rains come and go quickly. When they start it will POUR for 5-30 minutes and then be done. Hunker down shere you are at and it will quickly pass or get really wet (you’lll dry quickly) and run to the next spot and you’ll have short lines as soon as the rain stops and everyone is leaving where they were at.
  17. Free Wi-Fi internet is available in the theme parks and resort hotels at Walt Disney World.
  18. If the park closes at 9pm and you got in line for dwarf mine at 8:59pm they will let you ride. This is a great way not waste “valuable” time especially on days the park closes early.
  19. If you buy anything in the shops you can get it delivered to your resort the next day for free – no need to lug those bags around the park with you!
  20. If you get the hopper make sure you are still strategic so you don’t waste all your time on transportation. Here are our touring plans using the hopper
  21. If you get to the parks early you may get chosen to open the park – a special honor with unique perks! (they tend to choose happy families, at the front of the line, many who are wearing matching Disney shirts or princess dresses)
    best places to see Disney World fireworks at the magic kingdom
  22. The new Hopper Plus option allows you to go to Blizzard Beach, Typhon Lagoon, one of 2 fun Disney themed mini golf courses, and more per day of your tickets.
  23. Instead of rushing out of the park and waiting with the masses in line for the busses, hang out and shop or catch a last minute snack and you’ll have a more relaxing exit, beautiful pictures with few people, and watch  The Kiss Goodnight.
  24. Instead of spending $10+ on each on-ride photo, get Memory Maker with all the pictures you care to take with characters, on rides, and around the parks for one price (includes videos)  Pre-purchase to save $20. Plus you can access those pictures from your Disney App right away to share on Facebook or make sure everyone has their eyes open and is smiling.
  25. Kids 3 and under FREE at Disney
  26. Kids love looking for Hidden Mickey’s throughout the parks, resorts, and rides; it is like a giant scavenger hunt. Grab a HiddenMickey Book and always feel free to ask a cast member when getting on a ride for clues if you need them.
  27. Let Resort Cast Members or Park Guest Services know If you are celebrating a special occasion, they will give you a special button – not only will cast members help you celebrate all day long, but you may get some unexpected surprises too!
  28. Bring and use LOTS of hand sanitizer so you don’t get a stomach bug or pink eye – think of all the hands touching everything!
  29. Many Photopass Photographers can do “magic shots” – these are a fun surprise after – feel free to ask for these from as many photographers as you can.
  30. Match in the same color so you can easily spot your group
  31. Most of the summer months are the worst times to visit, with late fall through spring being among the best times to visit. See BEST time of Year to go to Disney World
  32. No more charging stations – bring your own portable charger
  33. No selfie sticks allowed!
  34. Not having a plan for your day can cost you considerable time and headaches – may I suggest our 1 day itineraries ( Magic Kingdom Park Guide, Epcot Park Guide, Hollywood Studios Park Guide, and Animal Kingdom Park Guide)
  35. Photopass photographers are happy to take a picture with your camera too!! It’s a great backup
  36. Select attractions have single rider lines that will save you a lot of time if you don’t mind splitting up from your group. Rides include Test Track, Kilamanjaro Safari, and Spaceship Earth
  37. The longer you stay the more you save per day – if you have the time…..pick 10 day tickets and stay for 14 nights and get 14 days of FREE dining plan and you can enjoy relaxing days at the pool, enjoying their 2 water parks, playing mini golf, shopping at Disney Springs, movies at the pool, etc.
  38. The most difficult Fastpass+ to get are for the Dwarf Mine Train and Frozen Ever After
  39. There are literally thousands of things to do at Walt Disney World, many of which are quite known and popular, some of which are relatively unknown. Read as much as you can when planning your trip–you can never know too much about Walt Disney World, but you can definitely know too little.
  40. There are many rides that have fun, interactive ques so you won’t be super bored while you wait (Haunted Mansion, Dwarf Mine, Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Space Mountain, and more)
  41. There is a baby care center in each park with nursing area, TV and couches, kid size toilets, changing tables, and sale of kids items you may have run out of
  42. There is a dog sitting location on property
  43. There is a lost and found. My husband lost his wedding ring and employees found it sweeping streets after a parade. We were able to go to the lost and found and retrieve it!
  44. There is a shuttle to urgent care if you end up with pink eye or something else while you are at Disney world.
  45. There is always some sort of special offer if you are headed to Disney World. Make sure you do the math to figure out which one will be a better deal for your family. The FREE Dining offer (typically available in the fall) may not be as good an offer as a 30% off room rate if you are staying at the Contemporary or Polynesian Resort.
  46. Using an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.” not only allows you to get their expertise, but usually comes with some perks too! We use and LOVE Magical Moments Vacation!
  47. Want to ride in the front row? Feel free to ask the cast member and they usually are happy to accommodate
  48. You can get bug spray for free at various locations throughout the parks & resorts
  49. You can trade pins at Disney springs too (look for the pin trader shops and Disney souvenir shops)
  50. Although evening fireworks are best seen in front of Cinderella’s castle (on main street just in front of Casey’s Corner), Chinese Theatre (in plaza), and anywhere around the lake at Epcot – there are many magical locations throughout the park with much less crowds! (including on rides like Dumbo or Big Thunder Mountain, in front of Tomorrowland Speedway, in front of Gaston’s Tavern, and by Tom Sawyer’s Island.
  51. You must be 7 years old to ride without an adult.
  52. Your magic band connects with various interactive things and Genie will talk to you in morocco, small world will say good by e to you by name, your name will appear on poster at all star movie resorts poster, it’s like magic
disney dining tips

Disney Dining Tips


  1. Most important tip is to make your dining reservations 180 days before your trip. HINT: If you have a resort reservation in the system you will be able to make reservations for up to 190 days early giving you a significant advantage (180 days from your check in and then up to 10 following days of your stay)
  2. Don’t waste Disney Dining Plan snack credits on bottled water or fruit. Here are some of our favorite snacks at Disney World.
  3. For breakfast have a continental breakfast with 2 pastries and a drink to share and stretch your dining plan
  4. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, you can order a regular OR large fountain drink at counter service restaurants. The default is regular, so make sure to specify large if that’s what you want
  5. Last minute dining reservations can be found; check your Disney app the day before for last minute cancellations
  6. If your meal is exceptionally slow or you have poor service, make sure to let a manager now. Not only will that allow them to improve their service, but it gives them the chance to make it up to you (that is what Disney excels at!I)
  7. Dining reservations are free to make online; you can only have one reservation per day/meal and don’t forget to cancel any reservations you don’t intend to use by 11:59pm the night before or pay the penalty of $10 per person.
  8. The Garden Grill at Epcot serves delicious food family style, allows you to meet farmer Mickey / Pluto / Chip / Dale, all while rotating ever so slowly
  9. Many restaurants open 1 hour before park opens which is a great way to eat with characters without wasting park time, plus you can usually get an amazing picture in front of the castle with hardly any other people in the picture.
  10. New in 2017, the “regular” Disney Dining Plan now includes 2 snacks per person per day instead of dessert with your quick service meal. That is a great improvement – more dole whip, less generic chocolate cake!)
  11. There are a couple restaurants that require use of 2 dining credits (Cinderella Castle, Le Cellier, and shows like Mickey Backyard BBQ / Hoop Dee Doo Review / Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show
  12. There is a Startbucks in each park and you can use snack credits for drinks or pastries.
  13. They can cut caramel apples for you to make it easier to share, just tell them how many slices you’d like it cut into.
  14. Wolfgang puck has an amazing breakfast for quick serve meal credit (see best quick service restaurants)
  15. You can share meals (even on the dining plan) assuming they are not buffets.
  16. Character meals are a great chance to not only eat a yummy meal (many are buffets) plus see some characters and get autorgraphs from the convenience of a table. See Best Character Meals
  17. Disney’s Be Our Guest Restaurant continues to be a DO NOT MISS restaurant with hard to get reservations for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  18. Make sure to keep an eye on your dining credits at the bottom of your receipts, ¾ times we have encountered errors where we were over charged or charged for adult/child entrees incorrectly. The problem is easily resolvable at any guest services.
  19. The only place to meet the Beast is after dinner at Be Our Guest, Magic Kingdom.
epcot tips

Epcot Tips


  1. The Flower and Garden Festival is an amazing time to visit Epcot! Besides all the usual attractions, you will be amazed by the number and complexity of topiaries throughout the park!
  2. Cast Members in the world showcase are truly from the country they are stationed in and can give you lots of information on their native homeland and speak in their native tongue for you. 
  3. The Nemo pavilion has so much more than the Nemo Ride in it – you can meet crush, watch manatees, gaze at their HUGE aquarium and see diving demonstrations … all from the comfort of a large air-conditioned indoor pavilion. 
  4. Epcot is a beautiful park with lots of fountains (sit and watch a spell), flowers, and interesting landmarks from around the world to take in. 
  5. Disney offers fun scavenger hunt type activities at the Food and Wine Festival & Easter. 
  6. If you don't have a fastpass+ and want to ride the new Frozen ride, make sure you go AS SOON AS THE PARK OPENS! This ride will be long all-day-long!
  7. Ellen Degenerus Energy Ride is L-O-N-G! It is a B line attraction that requires standing for a 15ish minute pre show movie (kids under 8 will be bored) and then slow moving cars that go by some dinosaurs. Start to finish it takes about an hour. 
  8. Get a free caffeine fix at Epcot’s Club Cool, where there are eight flavors of Coke products from around the world. Make sure to try the Beverly. It’s a rite of passage! 
  9. Sunshine Terrace in The Land Pavilion has wonderful, diverse, and delicious quick service/snack choices. 
  10. Kids will have fun visiting the Kid Spot in each country to get a Duffy bear to color. 
  11. A few restaurants in Epcot’s World Showcase offer views of Illuminations. Try
    • La Hacienda, Mexico for the best view. Make reservations for at least 30 minutes before the fireworks, arrive early and request a window table; let them know you are willing to wait 20 minutes for the window seat. 
    • Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room, England. Get reservations for 7:45 and when you check in tell them you’d like a patio table and are willing to wait an hour for it. 
    • Bistro de Paris, France (high end) – arrive early and request a window seat 
    • Cantina de San Angel, Mexico (quick serve) – if you can get and keep a table this is a great inexpensive option. Be prepared for possibly having other children squeezing by table to get a view. 
    • Tokyo Dining, Japan is a newer offering and is less popular. Make sure to get their early and ask for a table by the expansive windows.
magic kingdom tips

Magic Kingdom Tips

  1. After lunch, as Magic Kingdom crowds swell and the heat rises is the best time to either go back to your room for an afternoon dip in the pool, an afternoon nap so the kiddos will be able to stay up for evening magic hours or take in some less crowded, air-conditioned shows like Bear Country Jamboree, Carousel of Progress, the Tikki Room, etc.
  2. Besides minor decorations in the Magic Kingdom, the only way Walt Disney World “celebrates” Halloween is with the hard ticket Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which costs $70+/person to attend. It’s worth doing once, but even if you don’t do it, the fall is a great time to visit for light crowds and great weather.
  3. Bibbity Bobbity Boutique will sprinkle your child in fairy dust for free if you ask.
  4. Dole Whips, the delicious pineapple ice cream treats found in Frontierland,  have a reputation that precedes them. There will be a line, but they are worth it. If you have time to kill you can find a less busy Dole Whip counter at the Polynesian Resort via the monorail.
  5. Fantasyland attractions are best experienced first thing in the morning or last thing at night to minimize waits.
  6. Hang out along Main Street to hear bands, Trolley Show, Barber Shop Quartet, and more.
  7. If you are going to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party make sure to watch the parade from Main Street to get snowed on!
  8. If you don’t want to wait eons at Enchanted Tales with Belle in the Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland, you should get a FastPass+ for it, or do it within the first or last hour the Magic Kingdom is open.
  9. Magic Kingdom tends to be most crowded on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. If you can visit it on other days.
  10. Most of the entertainment that makes up Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (a hard ticket event in November and December costing $50+ per person) is shown during normal park hours and included with normal theme park admission from the week before Christmas until New Year’s…however, you will still “pay” for it in the form of ridiculous crowds and higher nightly room rates.
  11. Ride Splash Mountain, Dumbo, Astro Orbitter or Big Thunder Mountain during fireworks for an amazing, unique view.
  12. Sleepy Hollow in the Magic Kingdom isn’t a “full” counter service restaurant, but their ice cream sandwiches and other snacks, plus views of Cinderella Castle, are to die for.
  13. The pirate treasure maps in adventure land are loads of fun with interactive activities including appearing treasures, talking birds, snakes, shooting canons, and so much more. This is great fun anytime, but is especially a great way to spend afternoons when ride lines are long.
  14. There are “party line” phones on Main Street and in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom. Pick them up to listen in on some hilarious conversations.
  15. Unless you do it in the first 30 minutes the park is open, don’t do standby for Peter Pan’s Flight–use FastPass+. 
hollywood studios tips

Hollywood Studios Tips


  1. Hollywood Studios has had MANY closures in the last several years to make room for the new Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land projects. In the meantime, the park is a little more difficult to navigate and there are fewer things to keep you busy during the day. There are many things still worth seeing, but you might want to start at another park and hop over for ½ day here.  
  2. At 50’s Prime Time Cafe  and SCI FI Dinner you can get a milk shake as your beverage included with the dining plan (plus you still get dessert!)
  3. As Disney attempts to keep guests semi-entertained at Hollywood Studios with all their closures they’ve added a lot of Star Wars parades, shows, character interactions, and fireworks – see times guide for current offerings.
  4. If you are visiting when there are two showings of Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, always see the second showing. The line will be much shorter and you’ll get better seats. We prefer to get Fantasmic Dining Package and have a separate line with guaranteed seating
  5. Toy Story Mania recently got a new track added which has drastically cut the average wait time from 120 minutes to 45-60 minutes! Hooray!
  6. With all the recent closures you can no longer see Monsters Inc or Cars characters.
animal kingdom tips

Animal Kingdom Tips


  1. We prefer to sit in the back row of Kilimanjaro Safari to spend more time seeing the animals behind us. This ride changes all day long, try it in the morning, evening, but especially during the rain – animals are extra active in the rain.
  2. You will get SOAKED on Kali River Rapids
  3. This show has some AMAZING shows that are not to be missed – Nemo puppets show and Lion King acrobatic/live music show
  4. This show no longer has a parade
  5. There is a new River of Lights show, but seating is limited so make sure to grab a Fastpass+, book with a dining package, or get their EARLY!
  6. Avatarland opens May 2017

wdw resort tips

WDW Resort Tips


  1. Bell Services at Disney hotels will store your luggage, meaning you can enjoy the parks if you arrive too early on check-in day or have a late flight out on check-out day.
  2. Ask for ketchup at Whispering Canyon CafĂ©! This is such a fun restaurant – we like to come here during the midday to get away from the hot, crowded Magic Kingdom. (see our review
  3. Campfire Sing-Along with Chip & Dale is a (free!) campfire show at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground every night at 7 or 8 p.m., depending upon the season.
  4. Disney hotels will hold packages mailed to guests for pickup by the guests. This is a great way to save money on Disney prices (or checked bag fees) by mailing yourself food or supplies you might need on the trip.
  5. Don’t be afraid of having some fun by decorating your room window in a Disney hotel. Lots of guests do it, and it can be a lot of fun for the kids. Christmas lights, posed stuff animals, and homemade signs are just some of the things you can use to set the “scene.” Don’t be surprised if Mousekeeping has a little “fun” with your set-up, too!
  6. Each hotel has a pin board with LOTS of pins to look at – just ask at check in the lobby AND in the store
  7. Each resort has different themed menu based on hotel. Check it out before you pick a hotel and feel free to o to another hotel for a unique lunch (see menus)
  8. If you are at Disney World from Thanksgiving through December make sure you tour the deluxe resorts to see their amazing Christmas decorations.
  9. If you are on the meal plan and you eat at your resort and already have a refillable mug you can ask them to trade your drink for an extra dessert instead!
  10. All resorts have multiple pools. The “main” pool is the best themed, has water slides at moderate/deluxe resorts, and will be the spot for resort pool side games. Other pools are usually quieter and more relaxing!
  11. If you are staying at the Polynesian Resort, I highly recommend watching the Magic Kingdom Fireworks from their beach – comfortable, relaxed setting plus they pipe in the music and you’ll see the electric water pageant. (don’t forget to grab some hot cocoa in your refillable mug first)
  12. Resort pizzas are a great value when using your dining plan and are actually pretty good!
  13. Disney Moderate Hotel: Which One is Best?
  14. If you have dining reservations at another resort, consider saving 90 minutes of Disney transportation and hail a taxi for only $10 (they even have vans for families)
  15. If you have time make your way to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and watch the free roaming animals – it’s free!
  16. If you stay on property you can get a character wakeup call in the morning
  17. It is fastest to walk to the Magic Kingdom from Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and to take the monorail from the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary (unless there’s a line).
  18. Magic express will deliver your luggage from airport to hotel at no extra charge
  19. Moderate and Deluxe resorts have more than just pools – you can take carriage rides, strolls, rent 4 people bikes, fishing, and more (fees may apply)
  20. Disney World Hotels for Families of 5+
  21. One baby 2 and under can be booked into a room exceeding “capacity”, but if you have twins you’ll need to look for a larger room.
  22. Request a free wake-up call each morning from Mickey or Stitch on the resort hotel phone. It’s better than a buzzing alarm, and it’s a cool way to wake up (it might even get your kids excited to start the day!).
  23. Staying on property means you get to make Dining reservations 10 days earlier, Fastpass+ selections 30 days sooner, and you get up to 3 hours extra park time per day (see 8 Reasons to Stay at Disney World Hotel)
  24. The Electric Water Pageant is a cute little (unpublicized) light parade on Bay Lake outside the Magic Kingdom. Approximate show times are: 9 p.m. at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, 9:15 p.m. at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, 9:30 p.m. at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, 9:45 p.m. at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground, and 10 p.m. at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
  25. The monorail offers transportation from deluxe resorts to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and transportation center. It opens 30 minutes prior to park opening and up to 1 hour after park closure. (if you have early morning dining reservations, you will need to take a bus to get to the park)
  26. When it’s working, Old Faithful erupts on the half hour at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.



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